LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Saturday went to the dogs as Leadership Lufkin officially opened the new Lufkin Dog Park at Grace Dunn Richardson park.
The park was a class project of the 2014-15 Leadership Lufkin class. The group is made up of adults from all over Angelina County. Every year the group sponsors the Angelina CO. Science Fair, but this year's class decided to do a little more.
"The city did a survey in 2009 about the top 25 needs in the community, and dog park was number nine," class member Starla Bickerstaff said. "We looked at that 25 list and said what is achievable. In our nine months with Leadership Lufkin what can we raise money for starting at ground zero. The city partnered with us, Parks and Rec partnered with us, so we took it as a need and went for it."
The group first had to get the idea passed by the Angelina Chamber of Commerce.
"This is one of the best groups we have had," chamber president Jerry Huffman said. "They did so much work to get here today."
After getting chamber approval, the group would have to get approval from Lufkin city council. In September of 2014, the council agreed to give the group land at a city park if they raised the money needed. The group estimated the project would cost between $45,000 and $48,000. The council would give the group land on the back side of Grace Dunn Richardson park. Over the next nine months, the class would raise $48,000 through donations and various fundraising campaigns.
"It's amazing seeing a piece of land that was just trees and grass put into something that families can use," Bickerstaff said. "Dog owners can come and let their dogs run. Kids are out there playing together, so not only is it for the dogs but it is also for the families and the community."
Lufkin Mayor Bob Brown told the crowd in attendance that this is how a city should work.
"It's great to see the city and private sector come together to get something done," Brown said. "Next year's group is going to have a hard time topping this. It is a place that we should be proud of."
For dog owners, the park is a welcome site.
"We live right in the city so we don't have a place for her to run or just let her go with out a leash," Carlye Morris said. "We were excited because she can socialize with other dogs."
The dog park is open everyday from sunrise to sunset. All dogs must be current on vaccinations and owners are expected to remain in the park with their dogs.