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City installing bike path to Mitchell's dog park, providing a safer accessway

“The path will provide a safer way for people who may prefer walking or biking to the dog park by giving them the option to be off the street to the east side of the dog park,” Public Works Director Joe Schroeder said of the path.

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Rick Agnitsch, left, pets his dogs, while Jessica Chastain, watches her furry friends play on a hot summer day at Mitchell's dog park, located next to the Cadwell Sports Complex. (Sam Fosness / Republic)
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A safer route to Mitchell’s dog park will be available for walkers and bicyclists.

The city is gearing up to install a bike and walking path that will stretch from West Eighth Avenue to the entrance of the Mitchell Dog Park. Public Works Director Joe Schroeder said the path will help provide a “safer access way” to the dog park that sits on the west side of Mitchell along the Highway 37 bypass.

“The path will provide a safer way for people who may prefer walking or biking to the dog park by giving them the option to be off the street to the east side of the dog park,” Schroeder said.

As of now, there are no bike paths that stretch from main thoroughfares to the dog park, which Schroeder said can cause a safety hazard when people are walking their dogs to the park along the small road that sits to the east of the dog park in between the Cadwell Sports Complex parking lot and West Eighth Avenue. Schroeder said the plan to install a 1,200-foot concrete path was also a response to several complaints of vehicles speeding nearby.

The city has focused on improving the dog park since Rick Agnitsch, a Mitchell native and avid dog park-user, approached the Parks and Recreation Department in early June. The bike path is one of several improvements that Agnitsch and a group of dog park-users are seeking to bring to the city-owned park.

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Among the most notable upgrades Agnitsch has sights set on for the three-acre park are adding a shaded structure, portable bathrooms, more seating, along with building a memorial wall at the dog park, located next to the Cadwell Sports complex.

“When you go out there on a busy night, you’ll have eight to 10 families out there with people having to sit on the ground,” Agnitsch said in a June interview with the Mitchell Republic. “As I’ve gotten to know many of the regulars who go to the dog park, I’ve heard many say they’d wish there was more seating and some shaded structure areas. Some dogs don't do well in real hot weather, so that shaded area would allow them to get out and socialize during heatwaves.”

Agnitsch organized a fundraising effort for the dog park improvements to become a reality. The fund, which is set up through the Parks and Recreation Department, has been accepting donations since mid-summer.

Since the fund was established, Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell said there has been a steady stream of donations.

“We get a lot of people who come through and use the dog park, including tourists and others, and we have a Watertown resident who is even donating to the dog park improvement plan,” Agnitsch said during the July 6 City Council meeting.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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