Plans underway for 1st Tuscaloosa dog park



Popular Munny Sokol Park in Northport will soon be the home of the first dog park in the Tuscaloosa area, a project known as T-Town Unleashed developed by Fresh St-Art.

Fresh St-Art, a nonprofit that focuses on bringing art and education to the community through public spaces, will work with T-Town Paws, a Tuscaloosa animal welfare program, and the Parks and Recreation Authority for Tuscaloosa to design and construct the first park of its kind.

The dog park will be located at Watermelon Road and Old Colony Road in Tuscaloosa. It will provide a “safe and accessible recreation area, increase community involvement and be a catalyst for educational programs for the local schools,” according to the Fresh St-Art website. Though the plans are subject to change, the website explores possibilities for every aspect of the park.

Areas will include an educational pavilion, parking lots, restrooms, separate areas for small and large dogs, walking paths, areas for local art displays, educational events and agility training. PARA is in the beginning stages of fundraising for the park with the help of Fresh St-Art, and will provide the land and ongoing maintenance for the park, Gary Minor, the executive director for Tuscaloosa County PARA, said.

“PARA is hoping that this partnership [with Fresh St-Art] will result in increased funding for the dog park,” Minor said. “Fresh St-Art is helping with publicity, and right now, we’re trying to generate enthusiasm and see if we can get additional support and see if that support can be turned into funding.”

The estimated funding goal for the park is around $1 million, due to pricey water, fencing and electricity rates. The organizations hope to raise several hundred thousand dollars, but there is no time limit to the fundraising, Minor said.

“We’ve been trying to get a dog park built for quite a while,” Minor said. “We currently don’t have an official dog park. The big thing is that dog parks are heavily used across the country, and we’re kind of behind the times a little bit.”

With funding in mind, the Fresh St-Art website has outlined the dog park to minimize soil disturbances and maintenance costs, yet they note over-seeding and additional materials would be considered. Also, the organization has designed off-leash areas to be accessible for those with disabilities.

Lauren Spivey, president of Bama Paws, the University of Alabama chapter of T-Town Paws, and a junior majoring in biology, said the dog park will be a safe and positive addition to the city.

“I think the dog park is great idea. It would give students a place to take their pets somewhere other than the Quad, which isn’t the safest place because of the busy roads around it,” Spivey said. “The animals wouldn’t run the risk of getting hit by a car, and it would be a great place for larger dogs and their owners to relieve stress.”

In addition to safety, the park also fosters community gatherings and educational experiences. Ashley Kennedy, Bama Paws vice president and a junior majoring in marketing, said the park will provide many opportunities for her organization.

“I could definitely see Bama Paws using the park, because it would be a great place to get awareness out about T-Town Paws,” Kennedy said. “I could see us using the park as a location for a lot of our events, such as adoption events.”

Fresh St-Art includes ways for people to donate to their cause. Anyone interested in assisting the fundraising process can make a monetary donation or purchase an engraved brick or paver for the walking paths. Order forms for the bricks and pavers can be found on the T-Town Unleashed Facebook page.

More information about the park and Fresh St-Art’s goals can be found on their website, freshst-art.com.

 

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