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Dog park hearings gathering public opinion 

  The Landrieu Administration is surveying citizens and holding meetings about the development of dog parks in New Orleans. More than 1,400 residents responded to an online survey aimed at determining the needs of dog owners, and the city's Office of Neighborhood Engagement held a series of six public meetings last week (one in each council district; two in District C) to explain the fact-gathering process and get more community input.

  "The goal is to put one dog park and one dog run in each council district," Vince Smith, director of capital projects, explained to about eight people gathered at the District A meeting at the Robert E. Smith Library in Lakeview. Smith said the city had identified 23 unofficial dog parks across the city — 10 of which are in District A — in addition to "City Bark," the membership-only dog park in New Orleans City Park. Dog owners pay $43 per year for a permit to use the 4.3-acre off-leash park, a fenced area with amenities that include a dog wash and a smaller fenced-in area for little canines.

  It's not just the sites that are unknown or unofficial right now — it's the funding. "We have no dedicated funds," Smith told Gambit. "This is a site-selection process only." Smith explained that the city isn't sure yet whether any dog park monies would come from the capital operating budget or from New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) funds, so there's no timetable on construction.

  The survey closed April 27, but those who are interested can still provide feedback to the city at dogpark@nola.gov. — Kevin Allman

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