BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Regulars at BREC's Burbank Dog Park, like Barbara Jans and her two beagles, said there's not a better place to spend the dog days of summer.
"This is a tremendous park, and they've worked hard to keep it neat and clean every single week. We appreciate that," Jans said.
However, even BREC admits it's time for an upgrade. Brandon Smith, director of BREC's Special Facilities, said the park suffers from some maintenance issues, namely poor drainage in the middle of the park that leads to stagnant water and mud holes.
Visitors have probably also noted that the park's concrete dog pool has not been opened for the summer. Smith said the pool is damaged beyond repair with the pipes that run beneath the pool, the drainage system and the pump having all deteriorated.
"We've put enough band-aids on the concrete pool by now and it's unfortunately not feasible to continue operating it," Smith said.
Smith added that the cost and logistics of rebuilding or replacing the pool is something BREC cannot afford right now.
While that news is disappointing to several regulars, BREC is scheduled begin several improvement projects around the park to provide visitors with an alternate water feature and new amenities.
Additional shaded areas will be built for the two-legged patrons, including a much requested pavilion in the small dog section. New concrete drainage will also be installed in the middle of the park.
As for the pool, BREC will replace it with an agility course. A neighboring pond will be incorporated into the park to serve as the new swimming hole.
Smith said they will fence in the pond and add a dock along with an easy access, concrete entrance for dogs of all sizes. The pond will also be the new home of the retriever training lake which was originally located at the front of the park.
The entire upgrade is estimated to cost less than $100,000, which will come from BREC's capital outlay budget. Smith is hopeful they will have money left over for improvements at the city's other dog parks.
Many of the changes come from suggestions from regulars like Jans. While she's excited to see the improvements, she does have concerns the pond might not be as safe and secure as the old pool.
Specifically, she is concerned about snakes which have been spotted around the park.
"They're not poisonous snakes, no, but I don't think any us of want our dogs intermixing with snakes in any way, shape, or form," Jans said.
Smith said running into wildlife is a risk anywhere in Louisiana, and did not believe it would be an issue with the pond. However, he did tell visitors at the park they would consult the state's Wildlife and Fisheries Department to monitor for any harmful animals.
"We take care of the two legged and the four legged all at the same time," Smith said.
The construction is expected to begin in June and wrap up by the end of summer or early fall. Smith said during that time the park may have to be closed in sections or for a few hours at a time depending on what's being done.
Updates and notices of closures will be posted on BREC's social media sites and at the park.