- Associated Press - Monday, December 21, 2015

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - In October 2014, members of the nonprofit See Spot Run Inc. met with community members at West Pine Street and Fourth Avenue to unveil plans for a dog park in the downtown Hattiesburg area.

The idea was born that summer among people interested in seeing a dog park in the area. The estimate for the cost of the park was originally set at $150,000, with half the total quickly collected through commitments from local businesses and individuals.

The dog park’s plans include a parking area, as well as areas for big and small dogs. Inside the park, benches and tables will be available for owners to sit and get to know their neighbors as their pets play.

The plans were to acquire the property, construct the dog park and to donate the land and the dog park to the city of Hattiesburg for future maintenance. The original goal was for construction to begin soon after the first of the year of 2015.

While unable to meet the original goal of beginning construction at the beginning of 2015, See Spot Run Inc. did spend much of the year focused on the fundraising efforts for the park.

In February 2015, several local bands gathered one Saturday night at T-Bones Records and Cafe to play a benefit concert for the park. Funds were raised through the $10 admission and the raffle tickets available for purchase at the concert. Other businesses involved in the event included Connect Chiropractic; Twin Forks; The Spay/Neuter Clinic; Skylight Lounge; SouthBound Bagel and Coffee; Computer Karma; McKenzie’s on Main; Golden Growler; Bop’s; Shag Hair Salon; Moore’s Bicycle; Seraphim Studios; Sack’s Outdoors; The Lotus Downtown; E&L; Triangle Seafood; A Gallery; The Depot; and Vicki’s on Walnut.

See Spot Run Inc. also received a donation of $2,500 in March 2015 from Hattiesburg’s Raising Cane’s location. A profit share at Glory Bound Gyro Co. was also organized in April to raise more money for the park.

Steps have been taken in recent weeks to transform the plot of land into the beginnings of the dog park.

“We’ve removed a few trees to allow the grass there to grow strong,” said local businessman James Moore, who is involved with the project. “What happens at a dog park is, if the grass isn’t green, then it quickly turns into a dust bowl.”

The board has also partnered with the city of Hattiesburg and the Forrest County Board of Supervisors to take care of some of the logistical aspects of creating the park.

“The Forrest County Board of Supervisors are helping with some of the ground work and the parking and Hattiesburg is helping with the survey work as well as when we will be laying down our parking lot and sidewalks,” Moore said.

However, the park is still in its fundraising stage due to stipulations that come with the location.

“Since we are in a historic neighborhood, we have to make sure our park keeps with the look of the surrounding area,” Moore said. “The fences we need are a little pricier than a normal chain link fence and our water fountains, for both dogs and people, also cost a bit more than a standard water fountain. We are reaching out and there are still plenty of sponsorship opportunities for any individual or business to help us make our goal. We are only $10,000 to $15,000 away.”

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For more information about the dog park, visit www.runwithspot.org or www.facebook.com/runwithspot.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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