Dog owners who bring their pets to the city of Isanti parks and trails will need to continue to supply their own means for picking up after their four-legged friends.
After hearing a request from Parks, Recreation and Events Coordinator Jordan Clementson for the city to purchase a total of 15 dog waste dispensers to be placed at each of the city parks, along with at the head of the city trails, the council was originally in favor of such a purchase, but after further discussion backtracked and denied the purchase of any of them.
According to Clementson, the city currently has one waste station, located at the dog park. He said that station goes through approximately 6,000 bags a year at the park. The new dispensers could be mounted to existing signposts or fences. The cost of each dispenser depends on the quantity purchased. Based on the request for 15 dispensers, each one would cost $52.98, for a total of $794.70. Clementson added a case of 6,000 bags costs $238.97. He concluded by mentioning the Parks, Recreation, and Culture Board unanimously recommended the city make the purchase.
At the beginning of the discussion, Councilmember Luke Merrill even offered that the city purchase a few extras at the same time to replace any that got damaged, with the idea being it would cost less to buy more of them at the same time than buying a couple of replacements at a later time.
Public Works Director Matt Sylvester, however, interjected, pointing out that currently “four or five guys take a few hours” at the dog park in the spring cleaning up dog waste that wasn’t picked up by owners throughout the winter.
“I mean, it’s not a little bit, it’s a lot,” Sylvester said. “So I would have some concern adding these out there (at other parks) and them not being used and public works having to mow around them and work around them. A lot of people use the dog park, and that’s a good thing, but not a lot of people are using the bags to pick up the waste.”
He said another thing he could see happening is people might grab a bag, but then just leave the filled bag on the ground.
“I think we have to leave some of the responsibility to the dog owners,” said Councilmember Dan Collison, “if they’re going to bring their dogs to the park, they have to be prepared to bring a bag along with them. We have the bags at the dog park and that’s awesome, but to have us take care of their dog waste at all the other parks, I think they need to be a little responsible to bring their own waste bags and taking them out when they leave.”
Merrill asked Sylvester if there were many complaints at parks and if he thought at least having the dispensers would act like a reminder sign.
Sylvester said there is one park where there seems to be more of a problem, but he didn’t think adding the dispensers would alleviate the problem. “They walk right by it (at the dog park) and it is right at the front gate,” Sylvester said. “The honest people use it, the dishonest people don’t want to use it.”
“It’s not a huge investment to do it,” said Mayor Jimmy Gordon, “but if it’s not necessary, I don’t want to do it.”
“Everybody goes grocery shopping and has tons of Walmart or Coborn’s bags,” said Collison, “they need to be responsible by shoving a couple in their pockets.”
A motion to not approve the purchase of the stations was approved unanimously.
ODDS AND ENDS
In other action, the Isanti Council:
•Approved writing a letter of support to the Isanti County Commissioners for their position on making Isanti County a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” in response to a number of gun control bills being considered by the state legislature;
•Unanimously approved appointing Dan Hinnenkamp to the Economic Development Authority;
•Approved a special event permit to the Rum River BMX for their annual Race for Life/Gold Cup Qualifier April 27 – 30; and
•Tabled an extension of the contract with Bill’s Quality Cleaning for cleaning services for City Hall. The council requested staff reach out and see what the difference in costs would be if they only had someone come in and clean every other week instead of every week.