By Heather Mullinix
Every dog has his day, and in Crossville, that day was this past Wednesday when the community gathered to dedicate the City of Crossville Dog Park.
"The folks at city hall have made my dream come true for a safe off leash place for people and their pets," said Margie Buxbaum, who first brought the idea of a dog park at Centennial Park to the Crossville City Council. "We received so much encouragement and the employees of the city rose to the occasion."
The dog park, located behind the walking trail at Centennial Park, offers two large areas for dogs to run and play under the supervision of their people. The path is paved and handicap accessible, and there is a water line offering hydration for thirsty pets. It's the first public dog park in the county and an amenity not readily available in surrounding counties. It's already becoming a marketing tool, with billboards planned and flyers placed in area hotels, drawing those traveling with pets off the interstate to the pet-friendly amenity.
"Word is getting out," said Dee Walker, who headed up fundraising for the project. "There is a woman driving up from Spring City once a week, and I've seen notes on the fence arranging play dates for dogs. It's a great place to get together."
The city provided the location and split the cost of the initial start-up funding with the citizens group, with donations pouring in to fund the project.
"The Crossville City Council recognizes that when our residents and volunteers are willing to give their time and their money, we need to make the project a priority," said Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III.
Buxbaum had brought the idea of the dog park to the council in mid-2012, but the council was facing budgetary concerns and balked at a price tag upwards of $50,000 for a dog park, shelter, walkway and more. The fencing was estimated at $14,000 to provide two fenced areas — one for large dogs and one for small dogs, and the council offered a challenge to Buxbaum and other supporters of the project.
"The mayor said, 'Raise half of it,' and Margie left," said Mayor Pro Tem Danny Wyatt. "Margie left and J.H. said, 'I think I took care of that.' Two months later, she was back with half the money."
Graham said, "We feel like things start to grow in this community because people are interested in them. We look forward to future days where we are updated on how people like the facility and possible improvements."
Buxbaum organized local residents into a committee to discuss ideas for the dog park and ways to raise the funds. Walker signed on early to help with fundraising and many events were held through the year, including nail clipping, a silent auction, donation boxes and more.
Dog parks promote responsible pet ownership and an area for exercise, though off-leash play is no substitute for regular walks with their owners. Those utilizing the park will need to comply with rules of the area, including having pets up-to-date on vaccines, including rabies, kennel cough, distemper, hepatitis, parvo and parainfluenza. Pets should also be spayed or neutered. Pet owners will need to pick up after their pet, and mitts will be available. Children should be accompanied by an adult.