GONZALES — Work has begun on the first dog park in Gonzales — and in Ascension Parish — and dog lovers are panting for its opening date now planned for some time in the early spring.
City officials said they’ve been getting quite a few inquiries on the progress of the park, which has been held up by recent heavy rains.
But the ground of the roughly 1-acre park, located behind Jambalaya Park near City Hall on Irma Boulevard, has been graded in recent weeks so it will drain properly.
A pedestrian bridge has been built over a narrow canal that runs into nearby Bayou Francois to link a parking lot on the Jambalaya Park grounds to the grassy area where dogs will be permitted to romp and play when the park opens.
“We just think it’s another part of our quality of life,” Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux said.
The dog park has been something of a pet project for the mayor since 2008, when he was voted into office for his first term as mayor.
“As I’d go along the campaign trail, I’d ask people, ‘What are the major things you want to see in Gonzales?’ ” Arceneaux, now in his second term, said.
“ ‘A dog park’ was an answer that came up regularly,” he said.
The City Council, which was reconfigured in March when new council members Harold Stewart and Neal Bourque were elected after one councilman’s resignation and the recall of another, approved allocating $75,000 from the capital outlay budget for the city’s first dog park.
Funding for the dog park was cut in the 2014 budget by a 3-2 vote.
The dog park will feature a small yard for dogs under 30 pounds that owners can use if they like and a larger area for large dogs, said City Engineer Jackie Baumann, who began planning the park in September.
There will be a concrete path around the perimeter of the park for people who also want to get a bit of exercise and 10 benches where they can sit and enjoy the dog-play.
There also will be water fountains for dogs and their owners.
Baumann said the city looked at another piece of undeveloped property it owns off La. 30 as a potential site for the dog park, but to clear it and to build a road, utilities and a restroom “would have cost half a million dollars.”
The advantages of the location ultimately chosen is its proximity to Jambalaya Park, where there is plenty of parking and restroom facilities, she said.
“I hope we have a nice ribbon-cutting in the spring, and everybody can bring their dog,” Baumann said.