Dog park project limps but survives

TUPELO – Once a strong and energetic effort, the city’s dog park project has lost some of its pep.
Supporters rarely meet. Plans have gotten dusty. Fundraising has slowed.
But organizers say the project still is alive, albeit limping, and that they’re marching toward their goal of building an enclosed romping area for canines at Veterans Park.
“Although it does seem like it’s died down, we are still doing things,” said Shanta Eiland of the Tupelo Parks and Recreation Department. “We think there is a need for it.”
The group will hold a pancake fundraiser for the park Saturday at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Tickets are $6 per person and can be purchased in advance or at the door.
Supporters also are raffling a butterfly painting by Tupelo artist William Heard for $1 a ticket, available at the Parks and Recreation Office at Ballard Park. The drawing will take place Dec. 4.
Proceeds will grow the seed money for the dog park, which now stands at about $1,500. But the effort requires 10 times that much to reach to get a $15,000 matching grant from the Quality of Life Committee.
In the meantime, some of the project’s earliest and more ardent supporters say the effort has weakened; it’s time to get serious again.
“It seems like since the spring or summer, everything has died off,” said Lynne Welte, who has four greyhounds. “I think we should get together and have another meeting.”
Plans for the dog park launched last year through the efforts of the city and a volunteer-based committee led by Tupelo resident Mark McDaniel.
McDaniel moved earlier this year.
The group had envisioned four acres of enclosed, landscaped terrain hugging one of Veteran’s Park’s two lakes with separate areas for large and small dogs, an agility course, a pavilion, docks along the lake, walking trail and ample parking.
Early cost estimates came in around $400,000, but the project will occur in smaller phases and grow as money allows.
Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis said preliminary work began this summer with clearing and drainage. It’s not immediately clear when – or if – work will continue.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

EMILY LE COZ / NEMS Daily Journal