Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Fort Thomas may carve out space for Fido to frolic

By Dave Niinemets
Enquirer contributor

FORT THOMAS - Highland Hills Park might be going to the dogs.

A group of residents is trying to raise money to pay for a dog park. Located on a 1-acre portion of the 77-acre park off Mayfield Avenue, it would be the first of its kind in Northern Kentucky.

"We have a bunch of `dog people,' for lack of a better term, who are trying to raise money to make a dog park," said Don Brindle, parks and recreation director for Fort Thomas. "Basically, they would be paying for a fence."

The park would allow dog owners to let their pets run unleashed in a fenced-in area. Residents Tammy Nolan and Sandy Boothby came up with the idea two years ago after observing numerous people walking their dogs in the city.

"We decided to start a petition to get support for it and got more than 300 signatures," said Mrs. Nolan. "We took it to the city and it became the No. 3 priority on their recreation list."

But there was nothing in the recreation budget for the dog park. Mrs. Nolan and Mrs. Boothby decided they would spearhead a campaign to raise money. Their goal is $13,000.

Among dog parks in Greater Cincinnati are McFarlan Woods in Mount Airy Forest and a park in Mason on Old Irwin Simpson Road. Upper Arlington, Cleveland and Xenia are other Ohio cities with dog parks.

In Kentucky, Jacobsen Park in Lexington is a dog park.

An owner of two dogs who works at a veterinarian's office, Mrs. Nolan notes that Fort Thomas residents protested a city proposal limiting pets.

"We feel that we'll be able to raise the money," she said. "That should be no problem at all. The response we've been getting from people has been great."

The first major fund-raiser for the park will come Feb. 15 when the group will host the Dog Days of Bluegrass at the Tower Park Mess Hall. The event will include several bluegrass bands, raffles and drinks.

The group is considering having a photographer there to take pictures of pets, and dog grooming and training, with proceeds going toward the park.

Mrs. Nolan said they are also soliciting businesses to help and will distribute fliers asking for donations.

"We're just in the beginning stages right now and trying to get it together," she said.

Mayor Mary Brown said city officials would likely support the park if the funds are raised. She said it's not uncommon for the residents of the city to come together for such a cause.

"That doesn't surprise me a bit; that's the way Fort Thomas is," said Mrs. Brown.

Mr. Brindle said the dog park would be placed on a hill in Highland Hills Park. He said one of the park's nine disc-golf holes might have to be moved, but other parts of the park are unlikely to be affected.

Mr. Brindle said the dog park would likely include a walkway and a concrete area. The city may seek grant money to help pay for the project.

For more information, call (859) 781-1324.

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