Despite losing contest, Oxford mulls dog park
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Aug 26, 2013 | 3568 views |  0 comments | 77 77 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Oxford officials say a dog park is likely despite the city's loss in a contest to pay for the project. The park could be built at Oxford Lake, pictured above, or at the city's sports complex. Photo by Bill Wilson.
Oxford officials say a dog park is likely despite the city's loss in a contest to pay for the project. The park could be built at Oxford Lake, pictured above, or at the city's sports complex. Photo by Bill Wilson.
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Oxford didn’t win an off-leash dog park in a recent contest, but one may still be built, said City Councilwoman Charlotte Hubbard.

“We still have that in our plans. I just don’t know exactly where it’s going to be,” Hubbard said.

Her fellow council members all seem to be behind the project, Hubbard said, thanks to the large numbers of votes cast on the city’s behalf in that contest.

Oxford came in third among cities nationwide of comparable size, missing out on a chance to win part of the $200,000 in prize money from the contest sponsor, Petsafe.

Oxford received 46,391 votes, but lost to Wheeling, W.Va. which received 105,547 votes.

The city’s good turnout in the contest was due to people like Theresa Russell, Hubbard said.

Russell — a longtime volunteer at the Anniston Animal Shelter and at the League of Animal Welfare — worked social networking websites and helped organize events to get out the vote for Oxford.

“We did absolutely phenomenal,” Russell said, speaking of the contest outcome. “You can see the results and know that there’s a lot of animal-loving people.”

Now she’s just hoping the city council doesn’t put the project to bed for good. Russell said she doesn't think that will happen.

“They are still committed to building one, as far as I can tell,” Russell said.

There has been talk of locating the fenced-in dog park at Oxford Lake, or at the site of the proposed sports complex near the Oxford Exchange shopping center, but Hubbard said the sports complex might not be a good location due to space constraints.

The cost of a dog park can vary, Hubbard said, from a simple fenced plot to the $500,000 artificial-turf-covered dog park in Alabaster, paid for by winning a similar contest.

“It’s hard to put an estimate on it,” Hubbard said.

Oxford ended last year with $81 million in the city’s general fund, but Hubbard couldn't say for certain if the city would offer to pay for its own dog park.

“That’s something the council will have to decide. I’d hate to say, just myself, what they would decide to do,” Hubbard said.

But with as much interest as was shown during the contest, Hubbard said she believes the council will act on voters’ wishes.

“I think that will be something that we’ll take a look at again,” she said.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.



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