Every day after work and on the weekends, Zoe Moore takes her 4-year-old labradoodle Mia to Decatur’s dog park at Wilson Morgan Park.
“We were there the first day,” said Moore, a supervisor with the Department of Human Resources who relies on the dog park because she lives in a townhouse that doesn’t have a fenced-in yard. “I thank God it’s there for Mia.”
The park, which opened in May, has become a popular spot for pet owners. Advocates for the facility already plan to add benches to accommodate the owners.
“Every time I go by there, it’s being used,” said Councilman Charles Kirby, who represents the district where the park is located.
One exception was an afternoon a week or two ago when it was extremely hot and nobody was at the dog park. But another day, he said, "there were 10 to 15 people there with their dogs.”
The park was paid for with a grant and private donations, with no city funding, Kirby said.
About three years ago, a nonprofit committee organized and made a commitment to raise money for the project, one of the amenities suggested in the One Decatur plan.
The park’s steering committee raised about $20,000 for the project within about five months, according to chairwoman Suzie Wiley, and state Rep. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, helped secure a $100,000 grant from Alabama's Mountains, Rivers and Valleys RC&D Council.
“I think it’s a wonderful amenity for the dogs and people of Decatur,” said Wiley. “We’ve had a lot of interest in it.”
Wiley takes her own schnoodle, Governor Wiley, to the park about five times each week.
Moore said that Mia, a rescue dog, had few social skills when she was adopted two years ago.
“Now she runs and plays with the other dogs,” Moore said. “And we (the owners) interact and socialize while the dogs are playing.”
After work, Davis Mullenix also brings his 6-month-old Great Dane Oden to the park, giving his puppy an hour or so of exercise after being in a crate.
“I go there at least five days a week,” said Mullenix, a Decatur resident who works at Polaris in Huntsville. “It’s a good way for him to socialize with other dogs and people.”
The steering committee had about $3,000 remaining last year from the money it had raised after paying for design and engineering services.
Park users have requested more benches inside the park, and “we’ve ordered four more benches,” Wiley said. The dead shrubs and trees that didn't survive the summer heat will be replaced in the fall, according to Wiley.
Parks and Recreation Director Jason Lake said earlier this year that all of the $100,000 in grant money was used for the park construction. The parks department’s maintenance workers did the work, including the irrigation and drainage, but not the fence installation.