You might say the city of Hopkinsville, Kentucky has gone to the dogs—and dogs and humans alike, from several surrounding counties, are delighted! On June 2, 2016, the Hopkinsville Dog Park was opened by an official ribbon cutting ceremony, with plenty of dogs in attendance, ready to romp. It was all the idea of the 56-member Hopkinsville Christian & Todd County Association of REALTORS® (HCCBOR,) and a Placemaking Micro-Grant from the REALTOR® Party helped make it a reality.
“We sure do appreciate the National Association of REALTORS® for the grants that have helped us to help our community,” says Gay Wilson, Association Executive of HCCBOR. Prior to the Placemaking Grant, the REALTOR® Party had provided HCCBOR with Housing Opportunity Grants to help Hopkinsville built a more stable workforce, and to promote the city to military families living at nearby Fort Campbell. “We’ve also had the support of some really good city council members recently, and our mayor, who have been focused on helping Hopkinsville grow,” adds Wilson. The dog park, she notes, is the result of a huge community effort.
Two years ago, when HCCBOR decided to propose the plan to the city, Wilson and her 2015 Board President, Bruce Smiley, and several other members prepared by hitting the road to visit successful dog parks in nearby municipalities. Then they returned home and formed a task force that included volunteers from the local chapter of the Humane Society and other members of the community to receive recommendations and advice about what would make a good park. They took their proposal to the city council. The property was donated by the water company. The Parks & Recreation Department would be responsible for the park’s upkeep and maintenance. The City budgeted $50,000 for the project; HCCBOR would provide another $25,000.
The $2,300 REALTOR® Party Placemaking Micro-Grant got things rolling by funding a dedicated Facebook page, which became a primary fundraising platform as well as a place to share information and progress; the grant also supported the cost of fences and signs. HCCBOR raised close to $20,000, so far, to create an environment that is specifically for dogs, but which all visitors can enjoy. There are separate runs and play areas for small, medium and large dogs; there are drinking fountains (human and canine), trashcans, benches and restrooms. “Our community responded so enthusiastically to our request for financial help to make this project a success,” says Wilson. Donations came from the water company, animal hospitals, veterinarians and many other individuals who were eager for a dog park in the area.
One of the best fundraisers, she says, was the “Mutt Strutt,” a one-mile dog walk that attracted about 150 canine participants one Saturday morning. HCCBOR sold t-shirts, sacked lunches that included a hotdog, chips, cookies and water. There were goods provided by pet shops, and they also handed out “doggy bags” filled with coupons and items donated by area businesses, while they lasted. “It was such a fun day,” says Wilson, who adds that they’ve decided to make it an annual event, to continue raising money for more play features, like jumping hoops and a water feature for the dogs.
The new dog park is located right at a trailhead of the new Hopkinsville Greenway System, a six-mile rail trail that brings more fresh air-seekers to the amenities of the dog park. Each time Wilson brings her Great Dane, Maggie, to the park, she’s amazed by the number of visitors. “It’s a real community gathering place. People, as well as dogs, are connecting with each other and proving what a great asset it is.” HCCBOR reached out to contacts at Fort Campbell about the new park, and families from the base have been making the 20-minute drive with their dogs. “The more we can do to make Hopkinsville a better place to live,” says Wilson, “the better it is for all of us.”
To learn more about how the REALTORS® of Hopkinsville, Kentucky are improving their community for four-legged friends and the people who love them, contact Gay Wilson, Association Executive of the Hopkinsville Christian & Todd County Board of REALTORS®, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-885-8365.