Rejecting the recommendation of a task force, Kansas City parks officials left Sunnyside Park in Waldo off of a list of possible sites for new dog parks.
Kansas City Parks and Recreation staff came up with the list and presented it to the board on Tuesday. Thirteen possible locations throughout the city's six council districts were identified.
The staff report infuriated Deb Hipp and the members of Well-Organized Off-Leash Friends (WOOF). Hipp has promoted Sunnyside Park as a sensible place to allow dogs to scamper and sniff since 2006. WOOF raised money and even hired an architect to develop a site plan. "You're doing everything you can to stand in our way," Hipp, a former Pitch writer, complained at Tuesday's meeting.
A Dog Park Task Force, appointed in 2007, shared WOOF's enthusiasm for Sunnyside, determining the park to be the ideal location among the parks south of 31st Street.
Parks officials omitted from Sunnyside from its list of favorable locations primarily because it could not accommodate a dog park fives acres in size. (The WOOF plan calls for a 3.45-acre dog area in Sunnyside.)
Tuesday's board meeting resembled a meeting that took place two years ago. Then, Hipp and and other WOOF supporters were outraged when a dog-park policy, which effectively removed Sunnyside from consideration, found its way onto the agenda at the 11th hour.
The parks commissioners approved the new policy amid howls but later suspended their decision and announced the creation of a task force to study the matter.
Mel Solomon chaired the Dog Park Task Force. On Tuesday, he said he could not support the staff's recommendations. He encouraged the parks board to make a better effort to reconcile the differences between the staff report and the one completed by the task force.
Hipp used her time to lash out at parks Commissioner Aggie Stackhaus, WOOF's principal adversary on the parks board. Stackhaus is friends with Waldo neighborhood leader Eula Inloes, who does not want a portion of Sunnyside set aside for pets and their owners. Stackhaus showed her hostility to the idea of a Sunnyside dog park by rolling her eyes and puffing out her cheeks when WOOF members addressed the board.
Hipp called out Stackhaus for being overly demonstrative. "You're completely disrespectful," Hipp said.
Stackhaus admitted that she opposed dog parks in concept; she said her focus was on children. Challenged by another WOOF supporter, Stackhaus suggested that she was above criticism by virtue of her long record of public service. "I spend 50 hours a week on community work," she said.