New St. Paul dog park is off the leash

St Paul is calling all dogs and their people to the opening of the city’s second off-leash dog park, and the first in downtown.

Mayor Chris Coleman and City Council member Dave Thune will be among the dignitaries cutting the ribbon to officially open the new High Bridge Dog Park Thursday evening.

The park is between Shepard Road and the Mississippi River, on 7 acres beneath the Smith Avenue High Bridge. The site continues to be owned by Xcel Energy, and will be used by the city under a license agreement approved by the City Council on May 16.

That agreement makes clear the site was the former home of the High Bridge Coal Fired Generating Plant, which was demolished in 2009, and “could contain materials and substances associated with historic industrial operations.” The document goes on to say the site “was covered with 2-3 feet of imported soil in 2010.” And if there are any problems, the agreement specifies Xcel can’t be held liable.

(The search for a dog park in Minneapolis spurred controversy earlier this year when Martin Luther King Jr. Park was floated as a possible location. Some people who spoke at park board meetings said a dog park would be disrespectful. The park board voted in February to take King park off the list of possible sites.)

St Paul’s other off-leash dog park is the 4.5-acre Arlington/Arkwright Off-Leash Dog Area in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood.