Southwest City Dog Park is fortunate to consistently have strong leadership and in our 14th year – we expect to continue to grow and improve our dog park. With vision, fiscal responsibility, and a determination to make things happen – SWCDP has benefited from major, ongoing capital improvements and other significant changes and upgrades. Our “Capital Improvements” photo essay demonstrates the scope of work and enthusiasm of our crews – we are volunteer strong.
Well, this shot says it all…
Our original Water Station 1 was a constant muddy mess – no water drainage system – a big problem seeking a big solution. Aaah, the first BIG DIG occurred during SWCDP’s Spring Break in 2012.
A volunteer crew of 6-8 dog park members came together to make a plan and do the work. We had to dig deep to expose the short pipe attached to the faucet – the original pipe only diverted the waste water a couple feet from the faucet. We also dug an 18 inch deep trench across the dog park and added pvc piping to the faucet.
Then, we created a spill off / holding well for the waste water. Finally, we expanded the size of the
gravel around Water Station 1 including more peripheral stones. And, because this area at the mid-point of the dog park has heavy foot traffic – we banned pools and hoses at this Water Station. The re-routing waste water and eliminating excessive water usage solved the problem in Water Stations 1 & 2 area.
Our next challenge came soon after the installation of our new water bowls, Spring 2012. While our members enjoyed having more water sources and having the bibb hose to easily fill the doggie pools at Water Station 3 – this amenity created a massive amount of waste water. First, we slightly expanded the area with more gravel – but that did little to improve the situation. We just had too much pool and hose activity to manage the water run off sufficiently.
So……in great volunteer fashion – BIG DIG II (Phase 1) was initiated in late summer of 2012.
This was quite a project, involving over a dozen volunteers and lots & lots of gravel – we tripled the size of the area, creating an official “Pool Pad” designation. The concept required volunteers to dig a very deep pad area, install multiple perforated pipes and gravel to create a holding well for waste water. And, while we were at it – we added a few additional gravel/pipe areas further into the play area and also along the fence line to help in areas where rain water also collected and pooled.
Pool Pad Troubles – Even with the deep well and multiple perforated pipes and multi truckloads of gravel during PHASE 1 – we continued to have a water and mud problem. Our water-loving dogs use the Pool Pad all day and night – and in an effort to keep the pools full and fun – their humans tend to constantly dump and refill the pools – often dumping pool water through the fence. The pool pad stayed surrounded with mud. One of our most enjoyed amenities was – and is – one of our greatest and ongoing challenges.
1. Dogs get muddy going to pools which creates dirty pools which causes humans to dump pools even more frequently.
2. Pools of standing water collect around the lamp post and on to the ball field with riding lawn mower tires sinking and tearing up turf .
An adjustment was needed – something had to be done – even if just a temp solution – until SWCDP could find a way (and funding) to install a waste water system to tie into the City sewer. SWCDP was told that we could not dump waste water into River Des Peres or into the creek – both of which are on either side of our dog park.
So, in Summer 2014 – we added flagstones around the periphery of the existing pool pad, added a stone back wall, added more gravel, and created a designated area for drinking buckets and hose. We also drilled holes in the large tub to limit the fill water, restricted the pad to only 3 pre-approved pools, and added a large garden with water-loving Day Lilies to the ball field side of our fence. Thanks to the handful of volunteers who helped – and especially to Bob who practically installed this upgrade by himself. And – we posted a sign with Pool Pad Etiquette as well as ongoing reminders via email and newsletters to our members asking for vigilance and cooperation related to water usage.
And … in August 2014, we brought in more dirt and tried to smooth out the turf just outside our fence near the Day Lily garden.
Our largest “DIG” so far – BIG DIG III – was actually broken into Part 1 (Dog Wash) and Part 2 (Turf Renovation) and required more than a year of planning. We had an impressive volunteer crew including an MSD engineer, a professional landscaper, water company project lead, an experienced carpenter, a truck driver, variety of “handy” people – and as luck would have it – a volunteer who retired from a railroad company – and had lots of experience using a rig to move dirt, railroad ties, etc. Wow Wee – he moved our rig around like a surgeon with a scalpel.
Part 1 – Dog Wash
SWCDP installed a dog wash near the dog park exit – and it has become an amenity favorite. The space is large enough for a two-level washing bench and room enough for 2-3 adults plus their pooches. We rented equipment and did most of the work through a SWCDP volunteer crew; only hiring an outside contractor to run a freeze-proof water line so that the dog wash could be functional year round. The project required some deep digging, lots of drainage pipes and gravel – to create run-off areas for the waste water.
In 2014, we decided to give our annual turf renovation project to our volunteers instead of hiring our usual contractor. Since we already had equipment rented and volunteers committed to the Dog Wash – we decided to make BIG DIG III a two weekend project. And – as always – our volunteers came together to get the job done.
For years, SWCDP wanted – no needed – a decent entry area to the dog park. We had no sidewalks and in wet weather we basically walked up a slippery mud slope to our gate. It was a funding challenge for us as well as a permit and construction challenge for us and St Louis City Parks Department. The slope was a problem and staying with ADA requirements an added issue to satisfy. We also had pools of water in our front yard – the ducks loved visiting us!
Finally, during the City’s massive City sidewalk project in 2013-2014 – SWCDP was able to benefit from those funds.
We really lucked out in 2014. During the sidewalk installation, through the generosity of Stika Brothers and the City – since they were already on-site and pouring concrete – we worked out a special deal with them for a patio in our Alternate Dog Park and the final flooring in our Dog Wash.