WHERE: The dog park is on the Civic Drive directly behind Palm Springs City Hall, near the airport. The nearest intersection is Civic Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way.

WHAT: This is how the city describes the park on its Web site: “The Palm Springs Dog Park consists of 1.6 acres of fenced-in rolling grass with fire hydrants, dual purpose canine/human drinking fountains, picnic tables and benches made from recycled materials, solar lighting and shade structures. Dogs run and play leash-free; park never closes. Separate play area for small dogs. Beautiful fence designed and built by artist Phill Evans; double-gated for safety.”

HISTORY: The park exists today thanks to the work of Palm Springs dog lovers in the ‘90s. They raised start-up money and convinced the airport to sell the land to the city for a dollar. The mayor at the time suggested a competition to design a unique metal fence inspired by dogs and the desert. Artists from across the country submitted more than 60 entries. Public art funds paid for the $100,000 expense.

INVOLVEMENT: The Friends of the Palm Springs Dog Park was an informal group of volunteers who, from 2011 to 2012, worked to put the park back in the public’s attention. The goal was to improve the city’s only off-leash public space for dogs.

Now, the city has created a Dog Park Subcommittee of the Palm Springs Parks and Recreation Commission composed of two commissioners and a citizen member. For example, the subcommittee recently held an community meeting at the park to hear the opinions of users. The Friends group is no longer active.

PARK IMPROVEMENTS: The first goal of the Friends group in early 2011 was to try to improve the park’s grass. For example, sprinkler heads were broken. Much of the turf came back after the city’s golf-course experts offered their advice, and park users halted their fund-raising efforts for a resodding of the park.

In early 2012, the turf again was having problems and the Friends group met with the city once more. The city reseeded in the fall of 2012 and again in 2013, closing the park from mid-October to mid-December each year. The city created a temporary dog park in DeMuth Park by the new Palm Springs Animal Shelter during the closures.

The city also has installed new drinking fountains, placed gravel around the perimeter of the park, poured concrete in certain areas, replaced broken bricks, inspected and trimmed trees and roots, and moved a sign that was covering an artistic element on one of the gates.

The city had the fence repainted in early 2013. Waste bag stations also have been installed.

Dog park users have taken on their own improvement projects. One user helped improve a drainage problem near the drinking fountain in the small dog area by bringing in rocks to create a drainage area. Another person has installed water-cooling misters in the small dog area.

An appreciative bark out to all the park users, city staff, the Parks and Recreation commissioners, and the commission’s Dog Park Subcommittee members who collaborated to enhance the Palm Springs Dog Park.

E-mail your information to trav1000@aol.com to add your name to the e-mail list.

Friends of

Palm Springs Dog Park

Toward a second

sustainable, environmentally friendly dog park

The city’s overall stated long-term goals include a second dog park. There’s even a way on the city’s Web site to donate to help create another park. Click here for how to make a donation to the city’s “Dog Park Operation and Development” fund.

Palm Springs is home to more than 10,000 dogs, in addition to the many dogs brought to Palm Springs by seasonal residents, people from neighboring communities and tourists.

In the past, some expressed concerns about about the maintenance of two dog parks when the upkeep of one at times has posed challenges. The present park is heavily used and can be overcrowded. A second park would help ease the problem of “overuse.” This would reduce wear and tear on the original park, make it easier for the city to care for the existing park, and mean that short or longer term closures for maintenance would be less disruptive.

In 2012 and 2013, reseeding of the grass meant the city had to close the park for two months each year and pay to create a temporary fenced-in location in DeMuth Park.

A key to the success of a second dog park would be to reduce maintenance expenses by creating an open space built with sustainability principles in mind. Dog parks in other communities provide green examples to follow, such planting drought-resistant landscaping and using solar power. They also have found creative ways to dispose dog waste so it doesn’t end up in landfills, harm water quality or cause other environmental problems.

Examples include:

The K-9 Corner Dog Park in Long Beach “has a unique design that is environmentally friendly by using drought tolerant landscaping and generating 100 percent of its electricity on site with solar energy.”

At the Pacific Street Dog Park in Cambridge, Mass., dog waste is used as an energy resource. “Anywhere people are walking dogs can be a source of heat and light by introducing a methane digester into the equation ...  The Park Spark Project is the transformation of dog waste into energy (methane) through a publicly fed methane digester as an interactive urban intervention that questions our current waste system, and at the same time creates an opportunity for others to participate in the (re)imaging of the byproduct energy (methane).”  The Streetkleen project in London is using “dog fouling” to create energy.

In Ithaca, N.Y., environmentally conscious members of group  creating a new dog park “became concerned about the environmental impacts from the large amount of dog waste and plastic bags entering the waste stream. As a solution, the group started a pilot project to determine whether the dog doo could be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly fashion through composting. After reviewing the logistics, members agreed that the dollar costs of composting were probably cheaper than garbage disposal and waste removal.” 

The Crescenta Valley Dog Park in Los Angeles County was “designed with xeriscaping in mind. There will be some paved areas, drought tolerant plants and a good portion of the park will be landscaped with mulch (which will cut down on watering and maintenance requirements and fleas tend to not like to like it). There is also an integrated water collection channel that will collect rain water during the winter months and lessen the need for watering.”

Members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission have expressed support for a second dog park.

The time is here is for a new sustainable, environmentally friendly dog park in Palm Springs that will be a model for other communities to follow.

Off-leash in Palm Springs, California

The Palm Springs Dog Park is a gathering space for Coachella Valley residents, snowbirds, tourists and their dogs of all sizes. With a fence that’s a work of art commissioned after a national contest and views of the mountains, no other dog park in the desert can boast its character and sense of place. It is the city’s only legal leash-free public space.

“The Palm Springs Dog Park, a popular social hangout for canines and their owners ... It’s a human space — social scene that adds to the enjoyment of the experience.”

                                                                — The Desert Sun, Oct. 17, 2013

October 2013 article about the two-month closing of the dog park for reseeding the grass.