CRESTVIEW – The announcement that the Hub City will open a dog park comes after years of progress toward the goal.
April Meier, owner of Pawsitively Scrumptious, said she began exploring the idea of opening a Crestview dog park about three years ago. After suggesting the park at a local planning meeting, she conducted a resident survey for opinions on the proposal.
Meier said there was an overwhelming demand to see the city open its first park for canines. However, she said, there was little room in the city’s budget to make construction happen. In addition, city officials were unsure where such a park would be located.
A dog park would have to be far enough from residential areas due to potential noise, but still convenient for residents to use, Meier said. The area within Twin Hills Park fit the requirements.
Meier researched 10 cities of comparable size to Crestview that have dog parks. She used these towns as a model to brainstorm means of funding. Once a park is built, it still requires maintenance and upkeep, which carries a cost.
Before facing these costs, she first had to find initial funds to build the park.
In June, the Main Street Crestview Association, of which Meier is a board member, was approved by the Community Redevelopment Agency to build the park. In August, Meier began fundraising.
Fundraising efforts included dog washes, raffles and a “Paws for a Cause” event, Meier said. She said donors could purchase an engraved brick for $65 that will be displayed outside the park. Crestview lacks a pet cemetery, so Meier believes these bricks offer an opportunity to memorialize pets that have died.
Through community fundraising, the project raised about $3,000 before a massive donation on Dec. 21. Jim Huff, on behalf of Ted Simmons, gave a $62,000 check to the Main Street Crestview Association for development of the park. Simmons, a dog owner himself, took interest in the project and decided to further its funding, Meier said.
“The park is a gift to city residents and the dogs, too,” Meier said. She said that dog parks provide a place for people with common interests to interact. Additionally, dogs greatly benefit from socialization with other canines and people.
Meier said the next step is to have Wayne Steele, the city’s public services director, draw site plans and hire builders. The park will open in 2017, but Meier said she hopes it will be completed by spring.
The park will be more than an open lot for off-leash dogs; Meier said it would include amenities such as benches, agility equipment and a gazebo for events. She said a long-term goal is the addition of a water feature that dogs can play in.
To offset the costs of maintenance and ensure dogs are properly vaccinated, the city is planning a membership registration process. Meier said the expected costs would be $25 annually for residents and $35 annually for non-residents. Members will receive a swipe card for park entry and she believes they will be more inclined to volunteer in park upkeep.
“Dog parks are about the dogs, but they are more about the people who use them,” Meier said.
See more information about the park on the Crestview Bark Park Facebook page.