by Evan Sernoffsky

Neil Bjorklund, Parks and Open Space planning manager for the City of Eugene, is no stranger to proposals from citizens of Eugene for new projects, and has seen an influx of them in recent months. Few people however, realize what it takes to move forward with a proposed plan, and Bjorklund spends a lot of his time outlining the necessary steps involved in public land allocation.

When any proposal is made to the City of Eugene it must go through a process that requires city managers to vet it with the current users of the park, and to find outside funding for building and maintenance.

Renee Hart and other community members who are proposing an off leash dog park for small dogs introduced their idea to Bjorklund and are hoping it can be approved. “We will be getting back to them with the results of our discussion about their proposal with what we’ve considered and what we recommend” says Bjorklund in an interview at his office. “The big question is how do we fund the construction and how do we fund the maintenance for this park.”

Neil Bjorklund at his office in Eugene

With the economy struggling, the City of Eugene has no money to give to any new public parks projects. “There isn’t funding to build a new dog park, (and) there isn’t funding to build much of anything.” Bjorklund points out, but he tries to remain optimistic. “There are options. There are things that we will be able to approve for them to be able to move forward.”

Renee knows the realities of finding funding for her project, and is taking the initiative to raise money so that her park can be built. “I’m excited. I think the Eugene has a lot of good energy for creating a safe place for small dogs.” she says. She is even planning on entering a contest online, put on by Purina dog food, where the winner gets $500,000 for a dog park to be built on their community. “I think that this (potential) influx of financial support can be extremely beneficial and encouraging.” Renee says.

Renee is now in the process of developing a concept for her submission, and is trying to find help with production. If all goes well, she will have a video submitted by the deadline of June 18th, and can use it to leverage support for her cause whether she wins the contest or not.