Dozens vow support for dog park in Tupelo

TUPELO – Dogs could get a park of their own if an ad-hoc group of residents raises at least $8,000.
At least two dozen dog owners met Thursday evening at the city Parks and Recreation building to hatch plans for a public dog park.
They already have the support of Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis, who agreed to donate city land for the project. The group just needs to pick a space, come up with a design and raise the money – not an easy task, but not impossible, either, Lewis said.
“I think it’s doable by spring or summer of next year,” he told the men and women assembled.
The idea was spearheaded by resident Mark McDaniel, who recently moved back to Tupelo from Charleston, S.C., where he and his dogs enjoyed several dog parks.
“One of the benefits are exercise and socialization for the dogs,” he said. “Another is exercise and socialization of the owners.”
McDaniel told the crowd that he loves Tupelo but misses Charleston’s dogs parks, and that his dogs go nuts at the very mention of that phrase. He wants to bring those same amenities here and presented a slide show highlighting features a good park should have. They include: fencing, parking, handicap accessibility, good drainage, pooper-scooper stations, double-gated entry, and a set of rules.
But for a little more money, the group can get dog-washing stations, agility equipment, water features and different zones for small dogs and large dogs.
Residents buzzed with excitement as McDaniel spoke. Dog owner Jeanne Lagrone said a dog park would foster better community relations.
“It’s more than just a dog park,” she said. “It’s a place where people from all walks of life can come together and share a bench and talk. I’ve wanted this for a long time.”
The municipality tried unsuccessfully four years ago to build a dog park but didn’t have community support, said Sherrie Cochran, dog owner and city environmental planner. But based on the group assembled this week, Cochran said, it appears support finally has arrived.
After the meeting, the group split into three teams: One will select a site within or adjacent to one of the city’s 18 public parks; one will brainstorm fundraising activities; another will work on design.
The individual groups will meet again, but dates have not yet been set.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678- 1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal