Dog owner says Coconut Grove dog park has been neglected, asks for improvements

Park advocate turned Commissioner Ken Russell says his office is looking into it

COCONUT GROVE, Fla. – When a South Florida dog owner was fed up with the conditions of a Coconut Grove park he Called Christina. Now city leaders are evaluating a fix, but there is disagreement on a possible remedy.

At Miami's Kennedy Dog Park, there's an adjustable jump bar that doesn't quite work, a decorative dog statue that teeters and lots of dust.

"The grass is dead. My dog gets filthy," Carter Kurth said. "The sprinklers have been shut off for months."

According to dog owner George Leposky, who has been consistently taking his dog Max to the dog park for the past four years "it began going downhill about two years ago."

One person posted on Yelp.com about the park that there is "more dirt than grass" and Kurth, who said he is fed up, Called Christina.

We took Kurth's concerns to District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell.

"I take it very seriously and I am very proud of him for holding us and our feet to the fire," Russell said.

Russell knows a thing or two about being a passionate advocate for a neighborhood park. In 2014, his activism on the Merrie Christmas Park toxic soil clean-up issue led to a successful run for District 2.

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"It is the first time I met you Christina," Russell said. "I was just a citizen concerned about the park in front of my home and I was taking it to the city commission, and that's exactly what Mr. Kurth is doing, and I am very proud of that."

Now it is Russell's job to work on solutions.

"I've talked to the city parks director and he's already agreed to invest in upgrading the furniture in the dog park," Russell said. "I think we are allocating $8,000 in the coming weeks to do exactly that. The bigger question is how to handle the dust bowl that it has become."

The possible fix is where there's some disagreement.

For Kurth, it seems simple, "there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to grow green lush grass. It's basic maintenance. That's all that it takes."

But Russell believes a more robust remedy is in order.

"With as much traffic as we have at this particular dog park, it doesn't look like sod would ever really do well to survive there and it would be a constant re-sodding of the area, and every time we do that it closes it for a good month as the sod takes root," Russell said. "It looks like we may need to bite the bullet on this one and go with the full solution. I am much more an advocate of natural grass, but with this much traffic on it I don't if we will be able to stay ahead of it."

He believes AstroTurf may be the way to go.

"An artificial turf that's specially designed for dog parks, it drains, it is sanitary and you don't have to worry about wear and tear, but that would be about a quarter of a million dollar expenditure," Russell said. "So we are taking that up as a city commission, talking to the parks department to figure out the best way forward."

Kurth does not like the idea of artificial turf but does like that city leaders are talking about a quality of life issue that is important to him.

Russell has encouraged Kurth to create a Friends of Kennedy Park group amongst neighbors.

"A community group to get together to help with fundraising, awareness, community decision-making but at the end of the day it is a city park and it is our responsibility to take care of it for the citizens," Russell said.

Kurth is also considering creating a GoFund me campaign.

You can reach Kurth at: GroveDogPark@gmail.com

"It's right on the water. It's here in Coconut Grove. It's beautiful," Kurth said. "The dog park has just been neglected."