By Ryan Richardson
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Joplin residents, I want to give you a standing ovation.
I have resided here for almost half a year now, and I regularly lament the fact that I don't have a place where I can take my dog to run free. I take my dog out on walks when I can, but I know she doesn't care for having a leash on the whole time.
It would be great to still have access to a fenced yard, but that was not in the cards for me when I moved here.
One of the few things I liked about living in Springfield was access to a dog park on a regular basis. My dog was just a pup then, but she absolutely loved it. There was a lot of ball tossing, fetch and exploration done there.
Most importantly, it gave her an opportunity to socialize with other dogs, which I just haven't had the same chance to do while I have lived here.
My boss, Globe Editor Carol Stark, approached me last week to tell me how the city had started putting up fencing in Parr Hill Park for two new public parks. I had a good guess that she could tell by my excitement that it would be appearing in this column.
It has long been one of the few complaints that I have held about the city I now call home. During my research, I found that the residents of Joplin voted on a storm-water tax renewal in 2011 that had a bit earmarked for such a park.
For that, you all deserve a tip of the cap. Give your dog a treat, too. Go ahead, you've earned it.
I spoke with Joplin Parks and Recreations Director Christ Cotton Thursday to get the rundown on what will constitute our new off-leash dog park. Cotton explained the park is one step in a family-wide experience at Parr Hill Park.
"Dog lovers consider their pets part of the family, and when you take your dog out to a normal park, only one person can be holding a leash at a time," Cotton said. "This will give families an opportunity to have a safe environment with their pets while enjoying the outdoors together. We received a generous donation from Mars Petcare that has helped us put together what we think will be a great addition to Joplin parks."
The cost of the park will be $30,000 to $35,000 and will feature two separate areas, based on size. One park will cater to dogs 30 pounds and under, while the other park will accommodate larger dogs. However, additional guidelines for pet safety will be in place because of high communicability in certain pet diseases.
"We will require owners to come to the pet office to register their pets and to show proof of vaccination for rabies, distemper and parvovirus," Cotton said. "They will then receive their gate card and a tag for their collars showing that their registration is complete."
Additional rules and regulations will be discussed at Monday's city council meeting. I encourage that any concerns be voiced at that meeting.
Cotton said that the park is slated for a late spring or early summer opening, weather permitting.
This is great news for us, fellow pet lovers. I will update the progress of the park in my column throughout the spring, while my dog sits on the windowsill waiting for opening day. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you there this summer.
Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 417-627-7363.