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The city of Klamath Falls is pressing pause on the opening of the city’s first dog park — but dogs and their handlers can get their paws on the new park by next spring or early summer.

The delay is to let grass fully establish at the park, and it will also allow more time to raise funds for additional amenities, according to city staff. The park, located just south of Kit Carson Park, is a partnership between the city and the Klamath Falls Dog Park Association.

Scott Souders, development services director for Klamath Falls, said on Friday that they were planning on opening the park this month. But he and parks manager Terry Sellars decided the best thing would be to delay the opening.

“The only this thing that is going to be successful is to keep the dogs off of it until the grass fully establishes,” Souders said. “It’s very, very important that we get a strong base of a mature lawn before we actually open it to the public. If we open it too soon ... it’ll turn into mud and we will not be able to get ahead of it and make it the facility it can be.”

The Klamath Falls Dog Park Association, led by Dan Hewitt, provided labor and concrete work for the park while the city provided about $35,000 in funding, according to Souders.

City staff from development services, streets, wastewater, and parks departments helped with the project, in addition to volunteers such as Hewitt and Robert Farmer. Superior Fencing wrapped up their work on Friday, and park closure signs have been posted.

When it opens, the park will be Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible, with ADA and regular parking spaces nearby.

“We hope people can come by and be excited,” Souders said. “The good news about that is we’re going to utilize the next several months as opportunities for additional fundraising.”

Fundraising will help KFDPA add amenities such as benches and tables.

Souders said there’s been a desire for a dog park since he started with the city in 2015. But it wasn’t until Klamath Falls Dog Park Association approached the city’s parks department in 2018 that the idea gained real momentum.

“By having that citizen outreach, it helped us accelerate the project,” Souders said. “By having the community come forward and say, “We really want to do this, we really want to get behind it — they get all the credit for this doing all of the initial legwork on this.”

Souders said the approximately park is about one acre in size. It has one-third of an acre fenced for small dogs and two-thirds of an acre for large dogs. He said the city decided on the location near Kit Carson Park because of the accessibility and visibility from Crater Lake Parkway.

The city put out flyers door-to-door in the neighborhood to get the word out. A public meeting was held to gather feedback on the project at Roosevelt Elementary in 2018.

“We had overwhelming support with the people that came and attended,” he said. “We’ve had overwhelming support since.”