May 12, 2004                             


     Dallas has one. Austin has several. Cities across the country have them and, finally, so will Houston. The Houston Parks and Recreation Department has decided to make a portion of Maxey Park a place for dogs to exercise and socialize off-leash. (See attached map.)
      “This is tremendous,” said Roksan Okan-Vick, AIA, director of HPARD in announcing the news. “We’ve known that this is something our citizens want. We’ve known this is necessary for us to do as a 21st century urban parks department. And I’m thrilled that the department has had the chance to work with community groups to help make this a reality.”
      All city of Houston parks are, and have always been, dog friendly – as long as owners abide by the laws of keeping dogs on leashes and picking up after them. Dog parks are places where dogs can safely run off leash.
      Between 12 and 13 acres of Maxey Park will be set aside as a place for dogs. The area will feature a fenced-in space for the dogs to exercise off leash, and planned amenities include doggie drinking fountains, an area for smaller dogs and benches throughout the space. HPARD will pay for the fence. Additional revenue for the amenities was provided by last year’s City of Houston Birthday Celebration, hosted by then-councilmember Annise Parker.
      Meanwhile, HPARD has also designated part of Ervan Chew Park (4502 Dunlavy, Key Map 492Z) as a dog zone. This is a much smaller facility than Maxey, but is also fenced in so that dogs can exercise freely. Funding for Ervan Chew Park was provided by the Friends of Ervan Chew Park, who wanted to see a portion of the park used by dogs. Councilmember Ada Edwards was instrumental in working to develop this miniature dog park for her district.
      Councilmember Carol Alvarado has also been supportive of efforts to develop dog parks in Houston.
      “Having two dog parks in Houston enhances the quality of life for our citizens,” said Carol Alvarado, Councilmember, District I. “I fully support the Houston Parks and Recreation Department in its efforts to create these dog-friendly spots.”

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