Laurel Hines, my wife, is on a canine crusade to get the City of Salem to pave the horribly decrepit parking lot next to the Minto Brown dog park.
As Laurel describes in the message below that went to city officials yesterday, the parking lot is unpaved, muddy, and full of water-filled pot holes. Every other heavily used area in the Minto Brown park has a paved parking lot.
But not the dog park.
If you agree that the parking lot should be paved after reading her message -- which includes photos showing how bad the lot is -- send an email to the Mayor and City Councilors urging them to pave the lot as soon as possible: [email protected]
Dear Mayor and City Councilors:
The City of Salem is not being fair to Salem’s dog owners! There is only one usable dog park within the city (minus an apparently small dog park only for small dogs far off on the other side of the river in West Salem). The very small and unkempt Cascade dog park is not currently open. Having only one dog park for all of the main part of Salem is a shame!
The Minto Dog Park, our only dog park, is beloved and highly used all year around, but the parking lot has long been a muddy, rutted mess in the wet part of the year. It is the ONLY area of the park without a paved parking lot. For years we have been told that the lot will eventually be paved, but that never happens.
Therefore, the only place to let your dog chase a ball, exercise with your dog off leash, or let it socialize with other dogs, involves a very muddy experience for you, your dog, and your car. Your car’s alignment may also take a beating from the deep potholes.
Also, in the past, the big loop trail dogs and owners use within the dog park has usually been mulched, but that hasn’t happened this year. It is currently so muddy and puddled, that walkers avoid it and trample the grass nearby instead, damaging the grassy areas.
The parking lot has been full on recent weekend days in January that I have been there, (and quite full even on weekdays when not raining). It is severely rutted, puddled, and dirty. Dog owners have nowhere to clean off their dogs (or shoes) before putting them back in their cars. Entrances from the field back into the lot are wet, sticky mud.
MANY COMPLAINTS TO THE CITY
I have asked a number of other Minto Dog Park users if they have complained to any city staff about these issues. Many claim they have complained over a number of years, and all said they were frustrated that it seemed to do no good.
When I first called the parks department myself, over 6 years ago, I believe, I was told the same thing others are still being told: that the City is aware of the problem, and that plans were in the works to do something about it. But nothing ever happens other than the addition of a water spigot and designated handicapped parking spot several years ago. At least they service the ugly portable potties.
OTHER CITIES PUT OURS TO SHAME IN DOG PARK SENSE
The Portland area dog parks that I have visited put ours to shame, as does the Keizer Rapids dog park. Most others have rest rooms nearby and fenced areas. Salem’s Minto Park has a big advantage in size and the walking/jogging path within the dog park, but not in facilities or maintenance. All the other dog parks I have been to, other than the Independence dog park, at least have paved parking lots.
Most Minto Dog Park users like the big dog area, with plenty of room to throw balls a long distance to exercise dogs, to let dogs run and play in a large area, and the circular path to walk or run with your dog. Most Minto Dog Park users probably prefer having no fence, so that only trained dogs are brought to the park. That factor seems to lead to fewer problems with aggressive, out of control dogs.
But, we sure would like a decent parking lot and mulched paths, and maybe some decent restrooms.
SMALLER YARDS INCREASE NEED
With new homes being built with smaller and smaller yards, the need for dog parks to exercise dogs has increased. How can you throw a ball or frisbee very far to exercise a large dog in a tiny yard? Leash walks aren’t enough exercise for many active breeds, especially those who need their chase instincts fulfilled by chasing balls, or playing with other dogs.
DOGS NEED SOCIALIZING AND EXERCISE
Much recent documentation and knowledge has emerged that dogs who socialize with other dogs and other people, and get needed exercise and stimulation, are usually less dangerous, destructive, and problematic. Due to this, Willamette Humane Society and other shelters began having play groups for shelter dogs, even using them therapeutically to assess and improve dog’s behavior and well being.
INFORMATION FROM SALEM PARK MAINTENANCE
On January 26th, I spoke to Jake Snell, the head of maintenance for Salem Parks. He said that the parking area has been periodically graded to reduce ruts (but not lately), and that the need for paving has been discussed but is not in the purview of park maintenance. He said it would be a capital expense requiring extra funding. He did not know why it was not paved long ago when the other areas were, but did say that new regulations would add some to the cost.
He said that in the past, the path mulching was done by volunteers, but due to the pandemic or whatever, no volunteers have come forward to do it this year. I asked why the city could not pay to have that done, since there are some piles of chips already available from tree work. He seemed to say that it could be done if they now waited until a drier period to not cause more damage applying the mulch, (however, I saw some recent tractor markings on one trail, but no mulch).
He did say that although they can’t erect permanent outhouses at the dog park due to it being in a flood plain, they could erect the wood structures around the portable potties that the other parking lots have.
Don’t dog park users deserve at the very least a paved parking lot and bark mulched walking path? Haven’t we dealt long enough with having the dog park be the only unpaved parking lot in Minto Brown when having pavement is even more important for leaving a wet muddy area with a dirty dog and muddy shoes? It would not be a huge expense for the City of Salem.
Why after all these years, is it still the only highly used Minto Park area with such a horrible parking lot? Why are the portable potties not surrounded by the wooden structures like the other areas? Why can’t the city have the maintenance crew mulch the trails?
I would really like some answers to those questions.
Sincerely, Laurel Hines
Below are photos from a January 20, 2022 day at the Minto Dog Park. The first three are of the rutted, puddled dog park parking lot. The second is the muddy walking path. The last photo is of the paved lot just inside the Minto Park entrance about a mile from the dog park area, to show how different a paved lot was on the same day.
(Imagine the difference of being able to change shoes, wipe and load up your dog on such nice dry pavement like that paved lot at the east entrance of Minto Park, as opposed to the puddled muddy ruts at the dog park lot)