New dog park opens in Fort Smith, with maintenance support from Mars Petcare

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 4,665 views 

Fort Smith Police Officer Lauren Hendricks, patrolman handler for K9 Deelo, and Sgt. Keith Shelby, handler for K9 Ringo, visit the new dog park in Chaffee Crossing on Thursday. The Fort Smith Police Department announced Thursday that Officer K9 Ringo will retire from service. Ringo is 9 and began his service to the community under now-Sgt. Keith Shelby in 2014. Ringo will continue to live with Shelby in his retirement.

Fort Smith’s newest public park officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday (Oct. 1), and the town’s pups couldn’t be happier.

ERC Holdings of Fort Smith constructed a new dog park at 8204 Veterans Ave in Chaffee Crossing that will be conveyed to the city of Fort Smith for a public park facility. ERC Holdings, City of Fort Smith Parks & Recreation Department, and Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority co-hosted the ribbon cutting.

The new 1.24-acre dog park, which cost about $100,000, features:
• An exercise yard with a ramp, spiral tubes, a slalom, and tractor tires;
• A 100 foot by 250 foot running yard with a spiral exercise mound;
• A separate small breed yard;
• A gravel walking trail around the perimeter of the fenced area;
• A drinking fountain for pets and people; and
• A parking lot to accommodate visitors.

The park is located near the trails at Chaffee Crossing, the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center and Wells Lake. Kathy Coleman, director of Single-Family Marketing & Design for ERC Holdings, said the decision to build the dog park “was inspired by the fact that 95% of The HUB at Providence residents own a dog and we felt that a dog park was one more area that would add to the quality of life in Chaffee Crossing. It was an investment that was easily made by all of us at ERC.”

Lorie Robertson, director of marketing for FCRA, said ERC had purchased land behind Bost all the way to Roberts Boulevard, which they are developing. The dog park lies in that area, but the portion where it is located is under an existing cell tower on Veteran’s Avenue.

“You can’t build under (a cell tower),” Robertson said. “It was their decision to turn (the area) into an amenity that would be open to the people in the area.”

During Thursday’s ceremony, Fort Smith Mayor George McGill announced that Mars Petcare Fort Smith will partner with Fort Smith Parks and Recreation to oversee the maintenance of the dog park. The company will purchase equipment specifically for associates participating in the Mars Volunteer Program (MVP) to use while maintaining this park. In addition to helping with maintenance, Mars employee Rodney Melton, owner of Melton’s Decorative Concrete and Overlays, will donate a large rock monument sign to be placed at the entrance to the park.

“The Associates at the Mars Petcare manufacturing site here in Fort Smith are excited about the addition of the new dog park so close to our facility. Many Associates have volunteered their time to assist with lawn maintenance such as mowing and weeding at the dog park. In celebration of today, we are also happy to provide a donation of Pedrigree and Iams pet food to Kitties and Kanines, for the pets that they currently have in their care,” Mars Site Manager Mike Poffinbarger said in a statement.

Fort Smith Parks and Recreation facilities have grown in the past five years from 26 parks to 37.