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Dog park fundraising tough, but group carries on

2/12/2013

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Plans for a Hays dog park are moving ahead, and although raising the $127,000 needed is a daunting task, Friends of the Hays Dog Park are taking it one step at a time.

Meeting Sunday afternoon at Hays Public Library, the group discussed potential fundraising ideas. They've raised $14,700 so far and are in the process of establishing a partnership with Heartland Community Foundation.

"Going through the foundation is a good thing because with the 501(c)3 status, we can apply for grants," said Kim Perez, president of Friends of the Hays Dog Park.

Hays city commissioners in June agreed to set aside a 6-acre tract of land at Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex for a future dog park.

Envisioned as a park surrounded by a 6-foot chain link fence, with doggie drinking fountains, posted rules and cleanup stations, the park area currently is maintained by the city of Hays Parks Department.

With several fundraising events under their belts, the organization brainstormed new ideas for spring events such as a golf scramble, pub crawl, dog-kissing booth, dog wash and sale of artist-made dog houses.

Additionally, an intern is applying for several grants for the park.

Throughout the discussion, members agreed fundraising efforts could be accelerated if potential donors were able to see tangible results of dog park progress. Breaking the project into phases, and moving ahead with phase one this summer, could jump start their efforts.

Perez, who began researching dog parks in 2008, has been working with city of Hays Director of Parks Jeff Boyle since April 2011 to identify a site for a local dog park.

For a minimum $100,000 donation, a "Top Dog" donor can obtain naming rights for the dog park, subject to Hays City Commission approval. Other funding levels include opportunities to purchase shelters, benches, picnic tables and other items for the park with engraved name plate.

A brick campaign has started with engraved bricks available for a minimum $100 donation.

Newly elected treasurer of the friends organization, Virginia Jacobs, said she would like to see more input from community members regarding the dog park.

"I would like to see more people come in and have a say," she said. "Outside people should be able to come in and say, 'How about this idea?' "

Information regarding the dog park is available at friendsofthehaysdogpark.wordpress.com or on Facebook.