Fort Oglethorpe has created a new committee to spearhead fundraising efforts for the city's planned dog park.
City Manager Jennifer Payne-Simpkins, who sits on the so-named "Bark City Committee," said the group's more than 15 members have already devised several different options to help raise money.
The first is an event being hosted by Moe's Southwest Grill on July 19, when a percentage of each purchase will go toward the dog park, committee members said.
The committee plans to organize similar events with other local businesses like Chick-fil-A and Applebee's.
"Give those folks a little bit of time, they're so creative they'll come up with a thousand different ways to raise money," Payne-Simpkins said.
The committee is also pursuing a "Bark for Your Park" grant from Knoxville-based company PetSafe, which sets aside a portion of its corporate profits each year to help communities around the country build and enhance local dog parks.
If awarded one of the eight $25,000 grants available for new dog park construction, the committee will have the $40,000 it needs to jump-start construction, as the city has already set aside $15,000 for the project in a restricted fund.
"We're not expecting it to be grandiose to start with, but we want to build it to where it is grandiose," Betty said.
Right now, committee members plan to outfit the park with benches and shade structures, as well as access to drinking water and an obstacle course for the dogs.
The park will be divided into two sides: one for small dogs and the other for large dogs. Betty said it might also include a third, smaller section for puppies and dogs that are learning to socialize with other dogs.
Additional dollars donated from the community and collected at fundraisers will go toward further development and equipment to the site to make it "the best dog park around," Payne-Simpkins said.
That means fundraisers will continue even after the park is built, to fund recurring expenses such as the pet waste disposal bags that will be available, added Fort Oglethorpe City Councilwoman Rhonda James.
"We want this to be something that's independent," said James, who also sits on the Bark City Committee. "We don't want it to just fall on the taxpayers."
Once the park is open, committee members plan to enlist volunteers from across the county to help with grounds maintenance. The group also hopes to reach out to Ringgold about a potential partnership to offer guidance, should that city decide to build its own dog park.
"We have the momentum right now and it's moving," James said. "It's moving forward."
Anyone interested in attending a committee meeting or making a donation is encouraged to contact Payne-Simpkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Myron Madden at email@example.com.