Dog park advocates hopes to fetch funds

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Friends of the Hays Dog Park is kicking its fundraising efforts into high gear with an event at The Mall in Hays Friday and Saturday.

Proceeds from the weekend's activities, which include a garage sale, raffle, T-shirt sale and bake sale, will go to construction of a dog park at the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex.

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.

"There has been a lot of good support for the park at Bickle/Schmidt Sports complex," said Friends of Hays Dog Park president Kim Perez. "Many people feel like it is the ideal location because it is not in a residential area.

"And the sports complex is a perfect place because people come there to be active. .... A place for dogs and owners to be active is a natural fit."

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.

Organizational meetings of Friends of the Hays Dog Park began three months later.

Friends of the Hays Dog Park have raised $9,000 to date. The project is estimated to cost $127,000. Commissioners will hold the land for up to two years while Friends of the Hays Dog Park raise money for the project.

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 plates.

A brick campaign will launch during the kick-off event, with engraved bricks available for a minimum $100 donation.

Garage sale items, excluding clothing and shoes, and baked good can be donated for the event by dropping them off at The Mall on Wednesday or Thursday.