The Eureka Springs Bark Park began with the love of a dog, Percy, a husky-beagle mix from an animal control facility in Michigan. Percy’s mom moved to Eureka Springs the year after Percy’s death in 2012, and shortly thereafter joined the Parks Commission to collaborate with the community and the Commission to build a dog park. In September of that year she founded a small grassroots committee consisting of other residents who shared the same vision of encouraging everyone to spend more time outdoors with their dogs. This type of park was in Eureka Springs Parks Department’s Master Plan for Harmon Park but needed people to step up to the challenge. Upon the creation of the new dog park committee, the Eureka Springs Parks Department agreed to allow the unused hillside of Harmon Park to become what is now the Bark Park. The Eureka Springs Bark Park is unique in that the materials were funded completely by the generosity of the community and local businesses and built by dedicated volunteers.
The Eureka Springs Dog Park Advisory Committee (ESDPAC) met every month at the Eureka Springs Library Annex, and the library allowed them to bring their pet dogs to put in their two-paws worth as well. A lot of research, planning and effort went in to a detailed 20-page plan that was presented to and accepted by both the Parks Commission and the City Council and then enacted by the committee. A local newspaper published weekly photos with captions of the progress and local radio helped advertise all events. The Historic District Commission also cooperated with the project, benevolently approving the chain link fencing within the Historic District, as it was the safest option.
The dog park committee faced funding challenges, as it was not able to get any grants, the Eureka Springs Parks Department had no available monies for the project and the committee received no money from the City of Eureka Springs. However, the committee held numerous fundraisers and the community (and tourists!) donated nearly $20,000. Therefore, the committee was able to purchase all the necessaries they had planned for: fencing, signage, poop bag stations, benches, trash cans, a kiosk and fountain were paid for by fundraising efforts of the ESDPAC, and the fencing was erected by volunteers on the committee in about 2 weeks.
Within only 22 months, the committee had reached its goal and the Eureka Springs Bark Park opened on July 14, 2014 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by the Chamber of Commerce. Newspapers, local radio and over 75 people and nearly 40 dogs were in attendance. The Eureka Springs Bark Park was also featured in Dog Fancy magazine (now Dogster) twice during its construction, as the committee submitted Eureka Springs into a contest for the most dog-friendly city in the US. Eureka placed in the Top 5 both times! These articles on Eureka Springs as a nationally recognized dog-friendly city are on display in the kiosk at the Bark Park.
The dog park is maintained by the Parks Department and volunteer days scheduled by ESDPAC and, like most dog parks, relies on park users to help keep our park clean and poop-free! Donations for maintenance, future projects and improvements are always appreciated.