By Joel Phelps
Fundraising efforts are ongoing for a project city leaders hope will fulfill a need for Arkadelphia pet owners.
With $44,000 already pledged, the Barkadelphia Dog Park needs another $26,000 before construction begins one of of two sites picked for the park. When the 2019 Leadership Clark County Class VII chose a dog park as its project, the location offered was an unused softball field in Feaster Park, situated north of Twin Rivers Drive and between North 26th Street and the softball field that is still in use.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the group had $65,000 pledged, but a top donor withdrew his $30,000 gift because of the damage the pandemic caused his business, said Lisa Jaskey, the LCC participant in charge of fundraising. But for Jaskey and her husband David, it’s a park they weren’t giving up on.
Out of the ashes of the pandemic rose another opportunity, when City Manager Gary Brinkley identified a second site. Located at 15th and Mill Creek Drive, the preferred site is on land owned by Henderson State University. While the Board of Trustees has agreed to sell the property, Jaskey said, an appraisal of the property is needed before the university can sell. Jaskey has applied for a number of grants. If those grants are secured, the vision can become a reality.
Jaskey submitted her vision to Gyms for Dogs, a firm that designs and builds dog parks. The vision includes an array of amenities typical of other city dog parks, including a 6-foot-high chainlink fence surrounding both the small- and large-breed dog areas (each with a double-gated entrance), agility equipment like a bridge climb and jump hurdles, separate water faucets for dogs and their owners, cleanup stations and garbage bins. Janskey added that the city manager also wants to add an asphalt walking path lining the outer perimeter of the park.
Once that second location is secured and the overall goal of $70,000 is met, the city can take over funding and construction can begin — at the preferred site, the group hopes — on the 250,000 square-foot park. Once the funding and final design blueprints are submitted, ownership and maintenance of the park will be passed on to the city.
“This gives [Parks & Rec] another park where they can plan activities related to dogs, such as obedience demonstrations, sporting dog demonstrations, and obedience training classes,” Jaskey said, adding that a dog park would greatly benefit the Humane Society of Clark County as well. “Their volunteers will now have a place they can bring dogs regularly — not just out walking them, but giving them socialization skills” to better increase their chance for adoption.
College students and senior citizens, too, will have a place to let their dogs exercise without the confinement of a leash. “A surprising number of [college students] have therapy or comfort dogs with them on campus,” she said. “Instead of keeping [their dogs] confined to a dorm room, they can run and play in a large area. And this dog park is right at their backyard.”
Jaskey added: “Elderly people now can take their dogs here to get more exercise than what their owners can provide.”
To date, the largest donor to Barkadelphia has been attorney Taylor King, whose Golden Retriever is commonly seen on his law firm’s advertisements. In addition to the Jaskeys, other donors include local veterinarian Drs. Rob Rucker and wife Gari.
Jaskey hopes to have all the funds secured and a groundbreaking this fall, with completion of the park by early 2022.