All Dogs Go to the Westside 1

Tails are set to wag as west Fort Worth gears up for its own dog park.

West Fort Worth dog owners can howl with joy: a new dog park, the city’s second after Fort Woof, is set to open in November on the grounds of North Z Boaz Park. Located just west of downtown, the new park has been developed on land formerly occupied by Z Boaz Golf Course. The dog area will occupy a full 10 acres of the park, with separate sections for large and small dogs and amenities sure to elicit barks of approval. Funded through a combination of public and private funds, the dog park, once finished, will stand as a state-of-the-art facility that complements Fort Worth’s reputation as a city of dog-lovers.

“We conduct need assessments and surveys, and dog parks rank highly,” says David Creek, the  Parks Department’s assistant director of planning and resources management. “With all of Fort Worth’s growth and urban development, people who move into the central city need a place to exercise their pets. This provides a location for that.”

The new dog park will offer much more than a place for Fido to stretch his legs, however. The city’s acquisition of the Z Boaz Golf Course provided a rare opportunity to develop a substantial new outdoor space in a centrally located area. As Mr. Creek explains:

“It’s very rare to have the opportunity to acquire a site of that size, with that kind of rolling terrain and mature trees, in an urban environment. It gave us enough acreage to do just about everything.”

North Z Boaz Park covers a total of 138 acres, with a master plan that includes space for basketball courts, generous open areas, wildflowers and soccer fields. Of course, for many people (and pets), the dog park will stand as North Z Boaz’s crown jewel. The fully irrigated and lushly grassed dog areas will measure seven acres for larger animals, and three for smaller. For a point of comparison, the new dog park’s total size — 10 acres — is twice that of Fort Woof.

Located in Gateway Park east of downtown, Fort Woof has admirably served the needs of Fort Worth’s dogs. The new park, which will greatly expand the accessibility of dog-friendly areas, represents an upgrade as compared to what Fort Woof can offer. In addition to the increased size, the new dog park will allow dogs to beat the heat through access to two ponds. The pond in the larger area will persist as a feature from the former golf course, repurposed for canines. Not wanting small dogs to feel left out, planners decided to build a second pond in the 3-acre area. The overall lushness of the facility will set it apart from other dog parks, and give Fort Worth yet another premier space for the enjoyment of the outdoors.

“The natural landscape of the North Z Boaz dog park will set it apart,” says Creek. “With Fort Woof, we found that one of the really important things was to have a good grass surface. In order to support this, the new park will have full irrigation, which not only promotes grass growth, but helps filter the waste that the dogs produce.”

A preparatory step of the dog park’s creation called for the construction of a 140-space parking lot. This lot, scheduled for completion before the dog park opens, will benefit not only park goers, but anyone who wants a parking opportunity off Camp Bowie Boulevard. The first phase of the dog park’s creation will result in the general off-leash play areas for large and small dogs, along with fencing and the irrigation apparatus.

The city of Fort Worth allocated the initial funds, which included $500,000 from a 2014 bond allocation for park improvements, for the park’s infrastructure. A partnership with a local donor’s group will enable the dog park to become the state-of-the-art facility that planners and community members have envisioned. The second phase of the park’s construction will add security lights, while an eventual third phase will complete a range of amenities set to include shade shelters, benches, picnic tables and dog washes.

“A lot of the dollars associated with our Phase 3 come from fundraising,” says Creek. “Community members are placing calls and raising funds on an ongoing basis.”

This commitment on the part of the west Fort Worth community should come as no surprise. While an excellent facility in its own right, Fort Woof’s location made it less-than-ideal for residents of the city’s western area. Residents of Fort Worth’s increasingly urbanized central area will appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with their furry companions.

“The people who buy the condos and apartments want to have their pets, but they didn’t have a place to exercise them,” says Creek. “Now they will have a location for that. Fort Worth is very pet-friendly, and this new park will give people a place to go with their dogs and associate with like-minded folks.”

The news of the dog park surely has owners and dogs alike straining at the leash in anticipation. Though the North Z Boaz dog facility has no opening scheduled as of this writing, planners have identified a target date: November 2015. Mark your calendars, pet-owners; Panther City’s about to go to the dogs.