By Derrick Knutson
Spot, Buddy and numerous other canines in the North Branch area will soon have a new place to play.
The Chisago County Board approved a comprehensive parks and trails plan amendment at its March 21 meeting that designates Checkerboard County Park in North Branch as an off-leash dog park.
The county first started looking at Checkerboard as an area to construct a dog park after a group of 10 residents approached county officials about a year ago.
One of those residents, Suzanne Kocurek, said the group initially thought of having a dog park at Riverwalk Park off Forest Boulevard, but that location turned out to be too small.
So they turned to Checkerboard and asked the county for help.
Mary Darragh Schmitz, county environmental services/zoning director, estimated the total cost for the project will run about $1,000.
County park board members haven’t yet decided how much land is going to be fenced off so dogs can dash free of leashes, but about nine acres of the park is being considered.
Clerk of the County Board DeAnna Lilienthal said numerous residents have approached the county about helping with the project, and the county plans to use the Sentence to Serve program to put up the fencing.
Schmitz said one of the park board members has already secured some fencing, which will help in keeping the price of construction down.
Kocurek told the Post Review last month her group is planning to do some fundraising to help out with the cost, too.
In addition to the fencing, Schmitz said some benches, signs and dog waste disposal stations with plastic bags could be added to the park.
“I think it will be great, especially for the people who live in the city,” she said. “They really don’t have a lot of places to run their dogs. It’s more fun for the dogs to run off-leash than be on a leash all the time.”