Ballinger High School students Laura Brown, Nat Gallant and Jon Gutierrez made a professional and thorough dog park presentation to the Ballinger city council in May.  

 The three students propose turning the old putt-putt golf course at Ballinger City Park into a dog park. The students did a significant amount of research into the work that would needed to be performed and the cost. Part of that research included coming up with solutions to the costs, equipment that would be needed, operation of the park and who would do the work.

 The students’ presentation was detailed and well thought out. Ballinger city manager Tommy Turney spoke afterward about the presentation, “They did a fantastic job. It was thorough and very detailed.  The amount of research those kids did must have taken many hours. The examined every possibility, researched the equipment and costs and even who would do the work. It was very impressive and I think it’s something we (the city) can get behind.”

 Prior to the council meeting people were discussing the conversion of the putt-putt park to the dog park. One person spoke of changing the old putt-putt park, “That putt-putt park is part of Ballinger’s history. We need to preserve it and fix it up rather than changing it.” But the presentation included blending the history of the course with the dog park. The proposal would keep the stone and mortar building that is located at the location as well as all of the trees.

 The putt-putt course has fallen into disrepair over the years and currently hosts nothing more than rotting wood, worn out putting greens and poorly working equipment. Branches, leaves and large limbs lay across the course that, with its stone building, looks more like something out of Grimm’s fairy tale rather than a beloved Ballinger landmark and are evidence that the place needs some updating.

 There is little doubt that something needs to be done with the old putt-putt course and repairing it would cost about as much as converting it to a comfortable, useful modern dog park. The park would give dog owners an option to get their pets out of the back yard and into some canine fun. Currently there is no place in the city designated solely for dogs. Research has shown over the years that active dogs are happy dogs who experience less stress. Giving them an option such as the dog park would present a means to achieving that goal for many of the city’s dog owners.

 The proposal includes keeping the building, trees and flowerbeds while removing the putt-putt greens foundations and storage shed. The proposed equipment that would be brought in includes metal benches, picnic tables, potty bag dispensers and metal trash receptacles. The use of metal equipment would help to ensure their durability and longevity, reducing the chance that money would have to be spent to replace them sooner than later. A metal “Dog Park Rules” sign would be posted at the entrance.

 An agility course would be set up in the dog park, which was included in the presentation, “Our team plans to place training/play equipment in the new park for owners to utilize and dogs to enjoy. Slalom poles, a tunnel, jumping bars, step-stools, ramps and jumping hoops are all pieces we want to implement in the new dog park.”

 The group of students included justification for each piece of equipment would be needed and their associated costs, “Slalom poles. Implementing slalom poles in the new dog park will give owners a new and free way to train their dogs. Dogs will also be able to use these poles recreationally. Our team wants to implement exactly 5 slalom poles into the new dog park. The estimated cost for the materials (metal piping and a buried base attached to the pole) should cost roughly $10 if our team buys the metal tubing cheap from Mueller. The total cost will be around $50.” They then discussed the ramp, “Similar to the slalom poles, a new ramp for the dog agility course will give owners a new way to train their dog. Dogs can play both on top and under this piece of equipment. To ensure that the ramp will be long-lasting, our team plans to use mainly metal materials for the constructions. A rough estimate for the cost of these materials (metal pipes to uphold the structure, diamond sheeting for the dogs to walk on, etc.) comes to around $250-$325.)

 The proposal for each piece of equipment was detailed, including the cost, design, materials, labor to construct them and potential businesses from which to purchase those materials. They also included the costs for replacing the fencing around the putt-putt course, purchasing grass seed, paint and primer, labor, removing the old foundations from the putting greens, clearing old posts, planting the grass, trash receptacles, bag dispensers, constructing play equipment and decorating play equipment.

 Overall, the students estimated the cost to be between $3,320 and $4,670 for the entire project. The students propose enlisting the cooperation of the city in order to supply the construction equipment and people needed to clear the area. Their plan for the work after the clearing was presented, “After we have successfully cleared the land of the former mini-golf course, our team can begin to step in and help with restoring its landscape. From past years, coaches employed by our school and other administrators have often helped supply us with workers during TMCN projects. Our team can receive help in landscaping by enlisting efforts of other students and organizations. Planting grass is also a job that can be done properly by volunteers and community-active students. The labor required for this duty should be without expense. Once our team gathers the necessary funds for completing the fence our team can dig holes for the posts and set the fence up. We may need help from adults who have experience in setting up fences.”

 The presentation was well received by the city council and the obvious significant amount of work that went into it was appreciated. The project is a worthy project that would tastefully blend Ballinger’s history with its future. The students have identified a need within the community and a solution. Their informed presentation addressed every aspect of the conversion from putt-putt course to the dog park. They showed resourcefulness and initiative in coming up with solutions to each aspect of creating the park. Their sponsor is Terri Harral, who was present for the presentation and who has provided guidance for the project.