Mission group seeking ‘a piece of land and $100 grand’ for new off-leash dog park

A Mission group is looking for funding and a site to establish the first off-leash dog park inside the I-435 loop in Johnson County. Photo credit Ty Konzak.

A group of dog lovers in Mission are “on a mission” to raise at least $100,000 for an off-leash dog park.

Comprised of local residents and city officials, the organization Mission: Dog Park is in its “puppy” stages of planning out what a new dog park in Mission would look like. Chaired by Christina Farmer, Mission: Dog Park is also on the lookout for an ideal site for the dog park.

Farmer briefed council members in a committee meeting Wednesday evening on the organization’s activities since its founding in August 2017. The group is working on research, gauging interest from the community and developing fundraising opportunities and local support.

Mission will have a pop up event at Mohawk Park this summer to gauge interest in an off-leash dog park.

Mission: Dog Park developed its strategies from those of the Friends of the Ottawa Dog Park in rural Ottawa, Kan. The Ottawa dog park, which serves a population of roughly 13,000, was constructed in about a year — two years ahead of its three-year goal — after raising about $30,000 of its $50,000 goal.

Council member Pat Quinn asked how Mission: Dog Park determined it needed $100,000 to build the site. Farmer said the group considered the higher cost of living in Mission, compared with Ottawa, and settled on a generous goal that would cover initial building costs.

Councilmember Nick Schlossmacher indicated that the city has no current plans to direct any existing city funds earmarked for parks to go toward building the dog park. Councilmember Hillary Thomas said that, “sustainability-wise, the city is going to have to be involved at some point.”

Mission: Dog Park is also planning a Pop-Up Dog Park event from June 29 to July 1 in Mohawk Park as a way to raise awareness and gauge interest in the community. In the meantime, the organization has identified several possible locations for the new dog park, most of which are on city-owned property.

“The location of this has been the trickiest part of this, surprisingly,” Farmer said, adding that some of the land that might be a good site for an off-leash park is owned by Johnson County. “Location recommendations would be very great if you guys had ideas or knew of anything else that we haven’t thought of yet.”

“We need a piece of land and $100 grand,” she quipped.

The site for a new dog park would need to be 1 to 1.5 acres and have adequate parking, plenty of shade and access to water, Farmer added. Some of the possible locations include Lamar west of QuikTrip, the vacant lot next to the Panera, Antioch Park, Mohawk Park, Broadmoor Park and Streamway Park.

“I think a lot of other things will fall into place once we do have a location,” she said.

All location options are “on the table,” such as repurposing part of an existing city park, or acquiring consent from a private landowner, said Parks and Recreation Director Christy Humerickhouse, citing the need for further discussion.

“There’s still a lot of things we have to think about, but… until we know where it’s going to go and what we can have, we aren’t going to be able make any of those other conclusions or decisions,” Humerickhouse said.

The nearest off-leash dog park for most northeast Johnson County dog owners is Leawood’s “Leawoof Dog Park,” which opened in 2014.