Kalispell Considers Revamping Begg Park into City’s First Dog Park

City staff propose fencing 3.5-acre section of existing public site for off-leash dog park

By Dillon Tabish
Blue, a 2-year-old lab, shakes water off on a hot summer day. Beacon File Photo

Dog owners and their canine companions may finally have a designated place to play in Kalispell.

The city is considering revamping Begg Park off Airport Road into an off-leash dog park.

Located on the south side of Kalispell across the street from the Kalispell Lakers baseball fields, Begg Park has 6.24 acres that include existing amenities such as a gazebo, playground and basketball court, as well as parking. City staff developed a site plan for a 3.5-acre section that would be fenced to create Kalispell’s first dog park.

The city council is scheduled to review the proposal at a work session on Dec. 12. City staff has asked to utilize $49,935 of tax-increment financing to pay for fencing, a drainage system to address surface water that regularly accumulates at the park, concrete slabs at the entrance, and other irrigation and landscaping expenses.

Dogs are required to remain on a leash at public parks. The concept of an off-leash site has gained steam in recent years with the popularity of Hugh Rogers Wag Park in Whitefish, which was featured in USA Today a year ago as one of the 10 best dog parks in the country. A local nonprofit organization called Paws to Play formed two years ago to gather support for a Kalispell site, holding fundraising events and partnering with the city to search for a proper location.

“We’re thrilled and totally onboard (with the city’s proposal for Begg Park),” Diane Bokor, one of the leaders with Paws to Play, said. “We know this is a process and that the city still needs to get input. But we think this would be a wonderful gift to give to the city.”

Chad Fincher, director of the Kalispell Parks and Recreation Department, said staff members have been reviewing sites across the city that could properly accommodate a dog park.

“We tried to find a place that is underutilized,” he said.

Fincher said Begg Park has many features that make it suitable for a dog park, including a parking lot and a connection to the city’s trail system.

“It seemed to be a natural fit,” he said.

The proposal also fits a goal of the South Kalispell Urban Renewal Plan, which was crafted with community input and showed significant support for a dog park on the south end of town.

If the city council approves funding the project, Fincher said the dog park could be developed as early as next spring.

Bokor said the Paws to Play group has raised more than $21,000 through events and donations, with the help of the Flathead Community Foundation as well as the Flathead Land Trust. Those funds could pay for amenities at the site, such as benches, water fountains and dog waste bags.

“Dog lovers have been really supportive. This is exciting,” Bokor said. “People want a dog park.”

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