Dog park days may be numbered

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Molly, a chocolate lab puppy, runs through the grass Tuesday at Central Bark dog park in Coeur d'Alene.

COEUR d'ALENE - Central Bark is for sale.

The 1.8-acre dog park, adjacent to the city of Coeur d'Alene's Northshire Park at the intersection of Atlas and Nez Perce roads, is part of a 10-acre property the school district put up for bid this week.

"I'm certainly disappointed. That's one of the most popular dog parks we have," said Bob MacDonald, chair of the Kootenai County Dog Park Association.

Central Bark, opened in 2010, is Coeur d'Alene's first dog park. It was developed through a partnership with the volunteer dog park association, the city of Coeur d'Alene and the Coeur d'Alene School District.

"I'd hate to lose it. I'd hope we would come up with some other options," MacDonald said. "Certainly, we'll have a lot of upset dog owners if we lose our park there."

The dog park was built through the fundraising efforts of the dog park association.

The school district agreed to a no-cost lease agreement with the city, with the city taking responsibility for zoning, regulations and maintenance of the property.

During the planning of the agreement in 2009, school officials said it would be a temporary agreement for two or three years.

"It was with the express understanding that the school district could need the property at any time," said Wendell Wardell, the school district's chief operations officer.

The school district is accepting sealed bids on the property until Nov. 13.

Coeur d'Alene school trustees approved the sale of the Northshire land during their Oct. 15 meeting. They also approved putting the school district's portion of Person Field, a downtown sports field, up for bid as well. School trustees pulled the field back from the sealed bid process after Coeur d'Alene City Council members, during their Oct. 16 meeting, requested additional time to come up with a plan that will allow the city to acquire the school district's portion of the field. The city has until Dec. 19, after that the school district will likely put Person Field back on the auction block.

Wardell said the school district offered the Northshire property to the city at the same time Person Field was offered, and moved forward with the sealed bid sale after city staff members told school staff members that they weren't interested in acquiring the land.

Doug Eastwood, the city's parks director, told The Press Tuesday that he told school officials the city was interested, but didn't have the money to buy the land.

"The school district was not interested in doing terms with us," Eastwood said.

Wardell said he was surprised to hear of the city's interest in the land. He said he and Superintendent Hazel Bauman, Associate Superintendent Matt Handelman, district Maintenance Director Bryan Martin and the school district's legal counsel met with city staff members on Oct. 10. At that time, Wardell said they were told the city didn't want the property.

"They could have said something during that city council meeting," Wardell said. "The trustees could have added that into their motion to give the city more time on Person Field.

"We took the fact that they focused on Person, that that's where their only interest was."

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