The Midlothian Parks and Recreation department had a bit of help when it came to the opening of the Midlothian Dog Park.
The park opened at 1111 Walter Stephenson Road on Jan. 24 with Midlothian Heritage High School FFA students keeping count of those coming and going, taking pictures and assisting anyone who needed it.
Weeks before the opening, Midlothian High School FFA students built the wooden sign that welcomes people into the nearly four-acre park.
Midlothian City Council approved the park’s $375,000 construction in March 2018. The funding came from the Midlothian Community Development Corporation which uses money gathered from sales taxes, parks director Brad Barnes said.
It was built for Midlothian pet owners and their pets to have a place to interact with the rest of the community. The four-acre park is a leash free area for dogs to romp and play on an obstacle course and cleared pathways.
Having the students work on the sign and help with the grand opening saved the Midlothian Parks department time and money, Barnes added.
Barnes said that the department sent Midlothian High School FFA photos of signs in the other parks so there was a consistent look and they made a great sign. The materials were supplied to the students to build the sign.
“It may look simple, but it takes time,” he noted about the sign.
Heritage students were the hosts of the grand opening, Barnes said. A student counted the 133 people that went through the gate while the other students mingled with owners and their four-legged friends.
Since the grand opening, Barnes said he consistently sees people at the park even though there is no official way to keep an official number at this time.
It’s helpful anytime the department has volunteers, Barnes added.
Jacob Parr, Heritage High School FFA director, said the students were running around non stop during the grand opening and it offered them great experiences.
The FFA program has worked with the parks department for several years, and the students are always excited to work with them, he said.
“When they need stuff done, we are their go to,” Parr added. “They know the quality of our students, and they rely on us.”
He added that it was good to see the two high school programs intermingle to complete a similar goal.
“It would have been a totally different project if they didn’t help us out,” Barnes said.
Samantha Douty, @SamanthaDouty