What had been a volunteer-run “dog play area” since its inception in 2002, is now an official University City dog park, following a pair of recent votes by the City Council of University City.

On July 8, the council voted to end the agreement with U. City People for Dogs Inc. (People for Dogs), and then voted to make the property on Vernon Avenue a city park.

City Manager Gregory Rose said he had been approached by representatives of People for Dogs in 2018 about the possibility of the city taking over, because they have had increasing difficulty finding enough volunteers to operate the area effectively.

Rose said that while city staff will now be more involved with the park, some people from People for Dogs will still volunteer. The group has offered a $20,00 donation to build a pavilion at the park.

During the discussion, Rose was asked about dog park rules, including the number of dogs allowed.

Rose said dog parks generally tend to be “self policing.” He said that if need be, city police could be called to step in in case of an incident, but that he expected that would be “the exception and not the norm.”

He said there will be a review of park policies and rules by the city’s parks commission. Its recommendations could be reviewed by the city council.

During the meeting, several speakers voiced support for the city taking over the park, but asked that any meetings to discuss rules and polices be promoted well so that residents could attend and make comments.

The current fee to use the dog park is $40 annually for residents and $60 for non-residents. City Attorney John Mulligan said new fees would be discussed during a transition period.

Mayor Terry Crow said that a fee might not be out of line, as fees are charged for certain programs at the city’s golf course and at its recreation center, Centennial Commons.

Parks and Recreation Director Darrin Dunkle said there are approximately 300 members using the dog play area currently.