McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 15, 2013

Bark park:

Will some of McAlester Public Schools’ property soon go to the dogs?

By MJ Brickey
Staff Writer

McALESTER — Will some of McAlester Public Schools’ property soon go to the dogs?

The McAlester Public Schools Board of Education agreed to enter into a lease agreement with the city of McAlester for a dog park, pending the city’s approval of the lease agreement.

McAlester Community Services Director Mel Priddy said Monday at the board of education meeting that he’s considered the benefits of a dog park to the people and pets of McAlester for a while and believes property belonging to McAlester Public Schools that is next to Chaney Park is the ideal location.

“Many larger cities have them (dog parks), and smaller towns and cities are starting to do the same,” Priddy said. “It’s just good for the community.”

He said it would give dog owners a place to spend time with their animals and socialize with other dog owners.

Priddy said at this time there is no money in the Parks and Recreation budget for the park.

“We will have to raise the money through donations,” he said Tuesday morning. “And grants.”

If this is approved by the city, he said they will hold a meeting for interested parties to attend and give their opinion.

At Monday’s meeting, Richard Gorman asked if the park would be separated into two areas, one for small dogs and another for large dogs. Priddy said there is enough acreage for that to be considered.

According to the proposed lease, for one dollar, the city would lease block 619 from MPS for 99 years.

Block 619 in the city of McAlester was formerly South McAlester, Indian Territory, and consists of 2.64 acres.

Priddy said Parks and Recreation maintained the property thinking it was city property until the city tried to sell it, to find that it belonged to the schools.

Priddy said bringing it before the school board was a first step. He said the city council must pass a motion in favor of the lease in order for more steps to be taken.

If the city is in favor of the lease, it will be for the proposed 99 year term, subject to a provision which would allow for prior termination if necessary.

The lease reads in part, “It is mutually understood and agreed that the lands, herein leased shall be for the intended purpose for use as a canine recreational park and related activities by the lessee which shall be operated by the city of McAlester Parks and Recreation.”

“This was all the idea and work of Mel Priddy,” said Executive Director of Pride In McAlester Stephanie Giacomo. “Pride in McAlester has dedicated $5,000 matching funds towards the realization of the dog park.”

“PAWS is also in support of the project.”

When asked who would maintain the park, Giacomo said it would be up to the city.

“A dog park in McAlester would increase the quality of life for residents,” Giacomo said, “and for pets in our community.”

The MPS board holds its regular meetings the second Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the old McAlester High School at 200 E. Adams Ave.

Contact MJ Brickey by email at mjbrickey@journalist.com.