In the midst of benefitting students with their teaching, a few professors on campus are also working to improve the city of Russellville with a dog park.
Professor Cass Capen-Housley of parks recreation and hospitality administration found the inspiration for the dog park whilst selling dog treats at a farmer’s market in 2011. Over time, the idea formed into actual questions about how to turn this into a reality with a once small group. Signatures were gathered, talk was made, but money was an issue. After a standstill when figuring out how to approach this, the committee of the Friends of the Dog Park picked back up, gaining ideas from other cities which had dog parks. Within this time, the committee came up with ways to fundraise, get active and spread the word about the dog park.
On April 12, the committee presented their ideas and plans to the Recreation and Parks Commission and received a positive response about the park. The Recreation and Parks Commission is willing to help the Friends of the Dog Park with funds and moving forward with the idea.
“They’re going to look at property at maybe a city park… and they want it to be centrally located. And once they can tell us what that property is, then we do the leg work,” said Capen-Housley. The “leg work” is analyzing how much donations and sponsorships they already have and estimating the cost of each part of what needs to be included in the park. “There also will be decisions to be made about overall maintenance and care of the dog park. We don’t want to drop off once this is built. We vow to maintain a very healthy support and maintain it with the city,” Capen-Housley said. Volunteers will be considered as a part of this.
Funding will come from fundraising, the city and sponsorships. Fundraising will include selling products like t-shirts. Friends of the Dog Park is hoping that sponsorships will be a large part of funding. The committee has come up with five tiers of sponsorships that donors can become a part of, with different rewards for each one. This means that if the city contributed a good amount of money, the Friends of the Dog Park would allow them to name the park, Capen-Housley explained.
Currently, professor Capen-Housley, Administrative Assistant Cheryl Moody and Dr. Lowell Lybarger are all involved with the Friends of the Dog Park committee. In the future, professor Capen-Housley and the committee would be willing to look into having a dog park near or on the campus. Professor Capen-Housley also expressed that the committee is always willing to have volunteers for the dog park and events involving the committee. The Friends of the Dog Park hopes to participate in events like dog walk-a-thons in the future.
For more information, the Friends of the Dog Park meetings are every third Wednesday at Dog Ear Books starting at 5:15 p.m. Students can also check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/RussellvilleDogPark/.