For quite some time, Muscatine residents have expressed desire for a dog park. In 2012, a dog park was identified as one of the most-requested amenities in a series of town hall meetings. A dog park became a project for the Community Improvement Action Team (CIAT team) and was included in the Muscatine Comprehensive Plan. One group, Citizens for Offleash Muscatine Park (COMP), started in late 2012 and has been working on the project for the last five years.
In 2013, COMP began Barktober Fest mainly as a fundraiser for a dog park, but it also served as an awareness group and a fun place for dog lovers to get together. Barktober Fest is a family and pet-friendly event and includes a walk, costume contest, and information booths from local businesses and vendors.
Peggy Gordon of COMP said Barktober Fest is simply a time to have fun. She said, “Talk a walk with pets and friends, show off your pet in their finest costume and try to win a prize, visit with other like-minded individuals, and raise money for the Muscatine Dog Park project.”
Gordon said everyone is invited, even if you don’t have a dog of your own. The only requirements are that dogs must be on a leash and up-to-date on shots. She said they do not recommend bringing puppies who haven’t received their full set of shots.
Gordon and the rest of the members of COMP are passionate about giving Muscatine dogs a park. “Muscatine is one of the only middle-large communities in eastern Iowa without a dog park. It is a real gap. Many residents drive to Davenport, Bettendorf, and Iowa City for their dogs to play in a dog park. It is an amenity that can help influence new people to move to town,” Gordon said.
Gordon said there is already a location mapped out for the dog park. “The park location is off Houser Street near the soccer fields and Kent Stein, which complements the recreation amenities in the area. It will be large enough to support a park with three separate sections, a three-acre large dog area, a one-and-a-half acre small dog area, and a half-acre senior/quiet area, and it will be connected to the trail system. We will also have room for a parking lot, entrance shelter, and growth.”
Gordon said COMP sees a dog park as something the will benefit the community and appreciates the community support in funding the project. “The dog park project is one of the Pearls of Progress projects. Fundraising like Barktober Fest helps show the local, resident support for the project.”