Janice Feldman came to the Rio Grande Valley seven years ago to be a professor at the University of Texas Pan American. She didn’t come alone. Feldman also brought her now 10-year-old Labrador Chelsea.
Feldman is a dog lover to say the least. When she moved to McAllen she noticed there was something missing from the city that she had seen in other cities around the country. So she along with some other residents from McAllen approached McAllen Parks and Recreation about filling the void and opening a dog park.
“Every town I’d been in had a dog park,” Feldman said. “I’m a faculty member at Pan Am and part of my job is community service. So I thought to myself this would be a community service that would enhance the communtiy and this is also something I have a passion for so I connected the two.”
McAllen Parks and Recreation Deputy Director of Operations Dave Melaas took note to the citizens request and began turning the wheels for the four year $300,000 project. The location of the park which opens on Feb. 13 at 10 a.m. is going to be the old BMX park on the corner of Tamarack Avenue and Fifth Street.
“Originally the property was set up as a BMX (bike) park,” Melaas said. “There used to be a group that was real active in the sport so they petitioned parks and rec and we built it for them. After several years the kids that were using that park grew up and it was no longer being used.”
Melaas explained that some protest was shown on the construction site once but that stopped and now people are asking for other different types of parks.
“There were two or three people who put a sign on some equipment out there that read ‘Where are we going to ride now,’” Melaas said. “But other than that there hasn’t been any opposition at all. We’ve got more people now who are asking for a skate park or a disc golf course.”
The secondary purpose of the dog park is to continue to educate the community about the care of pets.
“It’s law in the State of Texas how it’s not good to tie dogs to trees,” Feldman said. “Also (continue) educating people on spaying their pets and not letting them loose. We mainly focus on dogs but there are cats too.”
Ultimately Feldman and company consider it a park for people who have dogs. But Feldman wants people who don’t have any pets to come by and socialize with the animals and their owners.
“Let’s say for example there’s an older woman down the street who has no pets,” Feldman said. “She can come and pass some time and play with some pets because there’s many papers and research that state pets help a person’s emotional state.”