Downtown Milwaukee's first public dog park competing in PetSafe's national grant program

MKE Dog ParkA rendering of the dog park proposed underneath Interstate 794 on the west side of the Milwaukee River GRAEF


By Sean Ryan  –  Reporter, Milwaukee Business Journal

A $750,000 fundraising effort is underway to turn empty land along the river into downtown Milwaukee’s first public dog park.

There's an effort underway to support that dog park as it competes for a national grant that could help kick off the fundraising. The Milwaukee dog park is now among 30 contenders nationwide to receive up to $25,000 from PetSafe. The Tennessee pet products maker will award $25,000 to the top five projects in the competition, and $5,000 to five more.

The business improvement districts covering downtown Milwaukee and the neighboring 3rd Ward are leading the dog park project, and are asking residents to contact PetSafe this month to express their support in that “Bark for Your Park” contest. Public support for projects is among the criteria PetSafe will use to choose winners.

“This much-needed community amenity will enhance downtown’s quality of life, as well as beautify one of downtown’s busiest gateways,” said Matt Dorner, economic development director of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21. “I encourage the community to log on and vote.”

The dog park would be built south of Clybourn Street on the west side of the Milwaukee River. That is state-controlled land underneath Interstate 794’s bridges.

The plan includes separate enclosed areas of synthetic turf for small and large dogs to run, water stations and agility stations. Irrigation systems would keep the turf clean.

The project would also extend the downtown river walk along that property. Milwaukee elected officials in spring 2020 approved $200,000 in tax incremental financing for that river walk work.

The two BIDs will soon open a website that also would accept donations for the project. The park will have “donor recognition” areas as well.