The city of Fort Oglethorpe has finally locked down the design for its soon-coming dog park thanks to the ingenuity of students from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High.
Since October, students from the school's Architecture I and Advanced Architecture classes have been working to design a site plan for the 2-acre park that will sit in front of Fort Oglethorpe City Hall. Last week, the Bark City Committee overseeing the park's development gave a thumbs-up to the proposed rendering its members deemed the most fitting.
The design process has involved visiting the plot, mapping out property lines for fencing and using modeling software to create a 3-D design for the park, among other tasks — each adding new depth to the lessons undertaken in the classroom.
"Instead of them just reading a piece of paper with a scenario on it and then doing the assignment, they actually can walk down there after school or during class and see the problems on the site and make changes [in their designs]," said LFO drafting instructor Becky Hardinger, who teaches the two architecture courses and has eight years of experience in the field.
City Manager Jennifer Payne-Simpkins said the partnership will help reduce the cost of the project, noting that it would have cost an estimated $10,000 to hire a company to produce the design.
"It makes it affordable for us and it helps the community own the [project] because kids are involved," Payne-Simpkins said.
Once the design is complete, the school's Construction class will begin building agility equipment for the dogs to play on, as well as pet waste stations with bag dispensers. The school's Welding class is also taking part, and has already begun to create six custom benches and two tables for the park, as well as the custom ironwork that will be displayed on the entry gate.
Payne-Simpkins said the city will pay for materials used for the construction and welding work.
"It's going to be pretty cool to go to a groundbreaking ceremony and have it listed that they helped build this park that's going to be there forever, hopefully," said Hardinger.
The implications of the project go far deeper than just an opportunity to leave their mark on the community, the teacher continued.
By participating in the project, the students are gaining real-world experience that will give them a leg up on the competition when they enter the job market. That advantage will be especially meaningful for the two students in Hardinger's Advanced Architecture class, who did a majority of the design work and hope to study interior design and architecture after graduation.
"Actually getting experience working in the community is going to make them so much more hireable," Hardinger said, noting that the students will be able to add the project to their resumes and portfolios. "Essentially, this is just another feather in their cap that makes them career-ready day one out of high school."
A representative from CTI Engineers has made complimentary modifications to the final design to address stormwater issues at the site, which will be put out for bid along with other drainage projects planned for the city, Payne-Simpkins said.
The biggest expense moving forward will be the approximately 1,900 linear feet of fencing needed for the park, which will cost an estimated $30,000.
The city has already set aside $15,000 for the project in a restricted fund, and the Bark City Committee has raised some funds toward the effort, but with recent grant efforts unsuccessful, Payne-Simpkins said dog park advocates are looking to donors to help them reach their goal.
"We have an end goal in sight," she said. "Now the only thing stopping us from having the bone structure for the dog park in place is $15,000."