Popularity Calls for More Area Dog Parks
By EMILY RAMSEY
PLACE OF JOY: Dog owners allow their dogs some off-leash enjoyment at South Tulsa’s dog park, Biscuit Acres. Biscuit Acres was created soon after Joe Station, Tulsa’s first dog park, located on Charles Page Boulevard, was established.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
August 2013 will mark the fifth anniversary of Tulsa’s first dog park—Joe Station, located on Charles Page Boulevard. According to Herb Beattie, the creator of Joe Station and proponent of dog parks, Tulsa was long overdue.
“We were the last city of our size in both the U.S. and Canada to get a dog park,” he says.
Beattie began lobbying for a dog park in 2007 after visiting his children in Atlanta and Alberta, Canada. “They are so fun,” he says. “These are parks for people and dogs. People want to go to these places and meet and enjoy other people and their dogs.”
The community clearly agrees.
Soon after Joe Station opened, plans for Biscuit Acres at Hunter Park in South Tulsa began.
Joe Station and Biscuit Acres see a regular and constant flow of people; that’s especially true of Biscuit Acres, which opened in June 2009. Each week, 800 to 1,000 dogs visit the dog park, the continual foot, and paw, traffic making it difficult for volunteers to keep grass growing within the fenced area. “We really need three more dog parks in the Tulsa area. Popularity is so high,” says John Benjamin, a member of Southside Rotary, the group responsible for creating Biscuit Acres.
Unlike many cities where dog parks are maintained by the city’s parks and recreation department, both local dog parks are overseen by volunteer organizations. The city donated the land for both dog parks and currently provides them with water, lawn care and trash service.
Joe Station, which opened in August 2008, was created on a very small budget, with no financial help from the city besides the donation of the land. To keep costs low, Beattie made use of an abandoned ball park, which was already equipped with lights, fencing, restrooms and parking.
Biscuit Acres came about as a community project headed up by the Southside Rotary.
“These two dog parks are arguably the most heavily used parks by people,” says Beattie. “Dogs want to play with other dogs. They are also the happiest places.”
In March 2012, the nonprofit Biscuit Acres Volunteer Association was formed by local individuals who use the park and wish to see it continue. The association is made up of 55 members and provides volunteer maintenance and public education.
Donations and volunteers are what make the dog parks possible, Benjamin says. Many of the parks’ donations come from dog owners and veterinarians.
“When people experience Biscuit Acres and have a great experience with their dogs, they recognize the park’s value,” Benjamin says. “Dog owners are benevolent, and they love their pooches.”
Biscuit Acres will hold its annual fundraiser in September at the fire station on 91st street that sits north of Hunter Park. In years past, the fundraiser, called Pancakes for Pooches, has raised close to $6,000.
With the parks’ continued popularity and growth, Beattie and Benjamin are not alone in their hope for more dog parks in the area. “Broken Arrow is the best place for the next location,” Beattie says.
It would seem that Broken Arrow has been listening.
In October 2011, five acres, located at New Orleans (101st Street) and the Creek Turnpike, were donated to the city of Broken Arrow.
“People love their dogs, and there just hasn’t been a designated place in Broken Arrow where our residents could take their dogs and let them play in a safe, animal-friendly environment,” says Stephanie Higgins, director of communications for the City of Broken Arrow. “Our residents have been asking our parks department and the council to look into providing a dog park for years.”
The dog park, to be called Rose West Park, is currently in its first phase of construction, with site grading, seeding/sodding and fencing, and is expected to be completed by late spring. Future plans include separate fenced areas for small and large dogs, playing ramps, platforms and tubes, water hydrants, shaded picnic areas, walking trails, and restrooms.