Waxahachie celebrates reopening of dog park

Chris Roark
Waxahachie Daily Light
The areas for the small and large dogs were swapped, and a half acre was added to the large dog section of Wags-A-Hachie Dog Park.

It was hard to tell who was more excited about the Wags-A-Hachie Dog Park reopening Saturday morning, the dogs or their owners.

Dogs of all sizes took advantage of the park’s upgrade, which includes a larger and improved play area fresh with thick, green grass.

Some dogs tried their “paw” at the newly installed agility courses while others simply enjoyed meeting new friends.

The dog owners were just happy the opportunity was there.

“My dog is deaf, so this gives him a chance to run free and meet everybody,” said resident Misti Webb, who adopted Silas earlier in the week and adopted another dog, Tobias, on Friday.

After approximately six months of renovation work the city celebrated the reopening of the dog park, located at 701 Howard Road, with a ceremony that coincided with the first weekend of the farmers market, located just a few feet away.

The upgrades include a new agility/play equipment area, improved fencing, shaded picnic areas, benches and picnic tables, trash receptacles and a mural painted by Calina Mishay that incorporates the dog park, farmers market and butterfly garden.

There is also a 53-space concrete parking lot with lighting and ADA sidewalk connections to the hike and bike trail and the farmers market.

“I love the green space,” said resident Jonathan Collins. “I love the walkaround and the easy access to the farmers market. Southern Waxahachie was missing something like this, so it’s nice to have.”

Residents came out early to enjoy the renovated Wags-A-Hachie Dog Park on Saturday.

In fact, city leaders – many of them brought their dogs – said this project was about more than just a dog park.

“What I’m most proud of is the transformation that was made,” said Gumaro Martinez, executive director of parks and leisure services. “The connections between the trail, the dog park and the farmers market. In the past they were all separate, but now it’s a walkable area. You can go to the farmers market, walk on the trail and enjoy your time at the dog park.”

Plans for the upgrades weren’t taken lightly. Dave McSpadden, board member on the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation, said several residents talked about updating the dog park, but he said former Councilwoman Mary Lou Shipley was a driving force behind the project.

Calina Mishay pained a mural at the entrance of the Wags-A-Hachie Dog Park.

“Over many years it got to the point where it didn’t compete with other parks in the city,” McSpadden said. “So we, on the board, decided that what we need to do is improve this and do it at a high standard so that people who come here, this will be their impression of Waxahachie.”

Martinez said it’s just the latest effort in enhancing the southern part of the city.

“It’s an extension of south Downtown,” Martinez said. “It started with Railyard Park, and now the farmers market is here. We had the trail, but not much was going on with it.”

McSpadden said as the city was exploring ideas on how to improve the dog park he spent many days at the facility talking with people about what they would like to see. McSpadden said he met someone who said she likes to come to the dog park but doesn’t like to come at night.

“That sprung the idea of the solar lighting,” McSpadden said.

He noted the much-improved agility course.

“Our agility course before this was an 18-wheeler tire lying flat on the ground,” McSpadden said. “That was it. We had old broken-down wood benches. Now we have these city standard park benches. The city staff is going to come over here and make sure this is being used with pride.”

Even the old cistern, which originally was inside the small dog section of the dog park, was repurposed and now serves as the canvas for the mural to welcome guests.

City leaders celebrate the reopening of the Wags-A-Hachie Dog Park on Saturday with a ribbon cutting.

He said the concrete added to the dog park was just as important as anything else. He said concrete was installed under the fences to reduce lawn maintenance and to ensure dogs don’t dig holes underneath the fences. And the expanded parking lot will allow more people to enter the park.

“We now have a new 43,000-square-foot parking lot near the restroom that was rarely used because it was in the middle of the hike-and-bike trail, and nobody knew about it,” he said. “So over half of our budget was spent on concrete out here.”

He said the final product is an evolution from an idea that began long ago.

“When you look at it from the 30,000-foot view this is a huge upgrade for this part of Waxahachie,” McSpadden said, adding that the parking lot is going to serve the rodeo and roping arena as well. “So the spinoff of the original concept of a dog park grew to something much more wonderful for the city than what we originally thought. And all of this happened because of the collaboration between our board and the leaders with the Parks and Recreation Department.”