BARK IN THE PARK: Stakeholders gather to push forward project for pets

Keri Thornton | Daily Press

Tahlequah Parks and Recreation events coordinator Heather Torrento, left, stood with Ward 1 City Councilor Bree Long during Thursday's Tahlequah Dog Park meeting.

Residents gathered at the Tahlequah Municipal Armory building Thursday, Aug. 6, for a stakeholder support meeting for the Tahlequah Dog Park.

Ward 1 City Councilor Bree Long has taken the reins with the proposed dog park and informed those in attendance of current plans.

“We have a private donor who wants to work with the city of Tahlequah to construct the dog park,” Long said.

Since the first dog park meeting in July, Long said significant progress has been made by officials and community members.

“Some of the benefits we talked about included that it is a much-needed community amenity. It will help keep tax dollars here local, and it will keep our residents in the community,” Long said.

Long said those who attended the first meeting said they’ve traveled far to visit a dog park.

“Every time they leave Tahlequah, they’re taking their sales tax dollars, they’re buying gasoline. They are shopping at retail outlets and they are eating at other restaurants,” Long said. “If we have that attraction here, we think we can keep a lot of our people here and draw some of those people to visit our dog park.”

Those who attended the July meeting said they wanted to educate the public on the rules of the dog park, along with tracking and registering the animals, and maintenance at the park.

Long said she and Parks and Recreation events coordinator Heather Torrento will meet with the city planner and discuss costs.

“Obviously we need to have some good parking, we need to have ADA accessibility in it being conjunction with the fencing and the safety structures that we need to keep the animals safe,” Long said.

Long said she and other officials have discussed funding opportunities. She said her goal is to have additional information about those by the next meeting.

Long handed out surveys in hopes of getting a better understanding on what community members would like in the proposed park.

“This survey will allow our residents to prioritize their most important dog park features,” said Long. “There’s 11 items I had noted from our last meeting and I want the public to have the opportunity to prioritize that.”

Hard copies of the survey can be found at the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Hopefully between TACC, City Hall, and the Daily Press we’ll get a lot of good feedback that we can use, and hopefully we’ll find some additional stakeholders to support this project,” Long said.

Long said the goal is to be financially efficient with construction and equipment.

“Several years ago, I was part of the Leadership Class with the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, and we did the all-inclusive playground for kids out at Anthis-Brennan Sports Complex," she said. "I knew playground equipment for children is very expensive to get the commercial, durable equipment. I did not realize that dog park equipment is also very, very expensive.”

The next Tahlequah Dog Park meeting has not been determined yet.

Get involved

To take the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QC9ZXJF and visit the Tahlequah Dog Park Facebook page.

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