Article Image Alt Text

Copperas Cove City Council agrees to move forward with dog park and sponsor

Cove Leader-Press

The Copperas Cove City Council held a discussion and gave direction to move forward with an agreement with an unnamed sponsor for the construction of a dog park during their workshop meeting Tuesday evening. 
With Mayor Dan Yancey and Councilmember Fred Chavez absent from the meeting, the council had a quorum present, with Councilmember Joann Courtland serving as the presiding officer over the meeting. 
City council members first requested discussion on a dog park back in 2015, and in 2016, the council received several public comments asking that the city construct a dog park. In 2018, the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant Program developed a sponsorship packet to begin fundraising for the dog park. The program also held individual events to raise funds, providing some of that funding to Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful for the dog park, according to City Manager Ryan Haverlah. In 2020, the Youth Advisory Council began fundraising as well. 
Five Hills Scholarship Pageant Volunteer Director Wendy Sledd notified city staff of a potential sponsor of a dog park in late September 2021. 
Discussions with the Five Hills Scholarship Program, Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful, Parks and Recreation, Quality of Life Board, Animal Control and the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee occurred between September and November 2021 on the possibilities, strategies and recommendations for a potential dog park. 
The location recommended by the Quality of Life board and park staff is at City Park, near the front entrance of the park that borders Courtney Lane. It’s an underutilized area of City Park. This location would also have a lower maintenance impact because most of the city’s Parks and Recreation maintenance efforts are within the City Park. 
The dog park would have a fenced in area for larger dogs and for smaller dogs. Proposed amenities include a Dog Crawl, weave posts, King of the Hill, Hoop Jump, waste stations, benches, trash receptacles, dog walk, Jump Over, Stepping Paws, and fire hydrant. 
Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Stoddard provided estimates for portions of the construction of a dog park, which includes $22,050 for fencing, $14,000 for amenities, $7,000 for water stations and unknown amounts for signage and a path to the park, for a total of at least $43,050. 
The large portion of the funding for the dog park would come from a $50,000 sponsor (also called the Top Dog of the Park Sponsor, which comes with exclusive naming rights to the entire dog park plus premium signage, logo recognition on the Thank You sign and recognition on the city’s website and Facebook page and in future press releases as well as a reserved seat at the Grand Opening event and an opportunity to make remarks during the ribbon cutting ceremony. The sponsorship would be good for 10 years. 
The sponsor has requested that the dog park be completed in 2022 because they are celebrating their business model and their anniversary of their business, according to Haverlah. 
Haverlah said that the sponsor has asked not to identified yet in the event that the city council decides not to move forward with the dog park, and if it is construed that the business decided against participating. 
Other funding sources include $9,100 from the Youth Advisory Council and $5,000 from Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful, for a total amount of $64,100. 
“From staff’s perspective, it is something that I think is a great opportunity,” Haverlah said. “It is something that has been talked about for well over five years now in our community, and we have spoken with the Quality of Life Board, the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, numerous other organizations that are interested in a dog park. Our staff has committed a significant amount of time in developing the information that you have before you.” 
Councilmember Dianne Campbell said she had concerns with supply chain issues, if the city agrees to have the dog park finished in 2022. 
Haverlah said the city would add “good faith” language to the agreement to address these concerns that would prevent the city from being penalized in the event of not being able to finish due to not getting supplies. 
Campbell also said she had concerns about the liability issues with the dog park, specifically with “dogs that have a reputation for being aggressive.” 
“Even within our city, we do not adopt out Chows, pit bulls or Rottweilers, and so I have a wconcern about those breeds running freely in the dog park, and what is our liability,” Campbell said. “I understand it’s ‘Enter at your own risk,’ but still, I’m concerned then, and I’m concerned about the safety of the children. That’s what the park is there for, and some child inadvertently or purposely goes into this fenced area and were to be attacked.”
Haverlah said that there is signage that lists the rules for the dog park, and the sign can list what is expected of participants at the dog park. 
“We may not adopt out those breeds, but we definitely work with rescue organizations to take those breeds when we do receive them, so that they can try to adopt them out. Hopefully not within our city, but that’s up to those organizations to decide,” Haverlah said. “As far as the liability is concerned, we can work with our city attorney to try and specifically craft the language of the signs at the dog park.”
City attorney Charlie Zech added that the city would have liability from any sort of negligence claim. 
Councilmembers Joann Courtland, Vonya Hart, Jack Smith and Dianne Campbell said they were in favor of moving forward with the dog park and sponsorship. Councilmember Jay Manning said he was not sure yet.
“I’m not sure, Ryan, where I am, but I do have a concern about committing to do anything next year when it takes so long to get anything done,” Manning said. “I don’t see how we can do it, so I’d hate to commit to that.”
Courtland said that as long as there is “good faith” language in the agreement, that would have to be the give and take with the sponsor. 
“On the liability, responsible dog owners do know that if you have a dog aggressive or people aggressive dog, they should be wearing a blue bandana that signifies an aggressive dog, but again, it’s going to be up to the responsible dog owners to be able to manage their [dog], whatever breed it is in that dog park,” Courtland added.

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207