Leadership Rockwall, a civic awareness and education program sponsored by the City of Rockwall, is used to having its graduating classes take on programs for the betterment of the community. The most recent class has come up with an idea they think could be of benefit to all the communities in Rockwall County: an off-leash dog park.

The dog park concept has been showing up on citizen surveys in Rockwall for quite some time, but to this point the need had not reached a level at which it was feasible when compared to other city needs. However, the citizen group from Leadership Rockwall wants to make the park a priority which will be taken care of outside the city’s tax-supported budget.

“We feel like this is something that could be of benefit to the entire county,” said John Thomas when addressing the Rockwall City Council last Monday night. Thomas said the class thought the park should be made available to residents of Fate, Heath and Royse City as well as the City of Rockwall.

“We even thing this is something that could draw people in from (out of county).”

Thomas said that his group planned on incorporating 1.3 acres of “under-used” space at Harry Myers Park in Rockwall. “It’s in a flood plain, so there’s not much else we can do with that,” Thomas said.

He also told council members that he had received a positive response from three dog food companies for sponsorship of the dog park.

“I thought I would start with pet-related companies and move out from there,” he said.

Brad Griggs, Parks and Recreation Director, told the council that he felt the city could donate the space for the park as well as keeping up maintenance, since the city is already maintaining the site anyway.

The cost of materials for the park runs around $13,000 according to Thomas. The largest part of the expense is fencing off the 1.3 acre site, which Thomas estimates to run at $7,800.

Other items needed for such a park would include;irrigation, rest areas, grass and receptacles for animal waste.

Approval to move ahead with the project was given with a 7-0.

As an aside, Councilmember Cliff Sevier expressed a bit of frustration with an earlier council decision.

Sevier said he had previously wanted to designate certain children’s play areas at the existing park as pet-free zones in order to avoid the risk of dog bites.

“It pries on my conscience that we would do this for an animal, but not for a child,” Sevier said.

Sevier was challenged by Councilmember Matt Scott who said his recollection of that vote was different than Sevier’s. Scott said he recalled Sevier as wanting to keep pets out of the entire park, and that was why he had voted against it.

However, after the meeting, Sevier looked up the 2008 approved minutes showing that he had only sought to remove pets from the “Kid Zone” playground and the water park.

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