After years of clawing and scratching, Steve Castlen will have a dog park — one bearing his name — on Aug. 20.

That’s when the city has planned a ribbon-cutting for 3 p.m. at Legion Park.

“It’s been a long road, but I’m thrilled to open,” Castlen said. “We wanted to be part of it for the community, and this is what Owensboro has needed for 10 years.”

Castlen, a local real estate agent and founder of the Owensboro Dog Park Association, partnered with the city on this project.

Through the years as a real estate agent, Castlen said he's received numerous inquiries from people outside Owensboro about whether or not the community had a public dog park.

"They would ask where our dog park is, and I'd have to tell them we didn't have one," Castlen said. "... It's not a luxury; it's a necessity in order to attract people to this city and keep them here. We have to keep up with other cities, otherwise we're moving backward."

Castlen’s group raised the $74,000 needed to build the nearly 2-acre Castlen Dog Park inside the 23.75-acre Legion Park.

The bulk of the funds went toward $26,500 in fencing and $19,967 in concrete. Other items that added to the expense list included landscaping, tree and tree stump removal, plumbing and fountain costs, benches, trash cans, Mutt Mitt stations and signage such as for the dog park rules.

Amanda Rogers, parks and recreation director, said the agreement was for Castlen’s group to fund the project with the city taking it over after it opens to the public.

“Once it’s built and done, it's for here and evermore ours to maintain,” Rogers said. “And we’ll take over those maintenance expenses.”

The fenced-in area will serve as a public facility with a space for small dogs and a separate one for large dogs.

Although Legion Park does have a full-time park attendant, the area won’t be constantly monitored, and it will be up to dog owners to abide by the posted rules.

“It made Legion a really good location because there is a park keeper who is a maintenance worker who will be able to keep an eye on things,” Rogers said. “… But just like any other location where we have rules and regulations, if those aren't followed and someone calls and complains, our park staff and/or the police will come to investigate.”

For Castlen, the dog park inside Legion is just a start. He would like to eventually add a third area to include older and handicapped dogs.

And Castlen still has a strong conviction to build a second dog park on the city’s east side off Kentucky 54, which was his original plan.

“It’s a compromise because we had 8 acres approximately at the end of the Heartlands (subdivision) on Byers Avenue and now we have 2,” Caslen said. “But if 2 acres don’t accommodate us, we’re going to go back and start fundraising again and get us another few acres on the east side of Owensboro.”

When the Castlen Dog Park opens at Legion, its hours will be 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week, unless otherwise posted.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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