A new dog park on Mud Island got the go-ahead from a Memphis City Council committee Tuesday and while its main proponent said it will cost half of what was listed on council documents, the move still drew some protestors.
The aptly named Mud Island Dog Park was shown to cost about $475,000 in government documents issued before the council’s meeting Tuesday. That price got the attention of some on social media, including the group Homeless Organizing for Power & Equality (HOPE), which noted that the city “spends zero dollars on homelessness.”
“A place for dogs to s*#!%? but nowhere for our citizens to rest!?” read a post from the group before Tuesday vote.
Council member Berlin Boyd explained that Hollywood Feed, the Memphis-based chain of pet supplies, would pay more than half of the project's cost.
Boyd said he’d been working on the project since 2011, two years before then-council-member Lee Harris (now a state Senator) proposed such a park on Mud Island in 2013. Boyd, it would seem, worked on the Mud Island Dog Park project during his stint as an interim council member in 2011.
Boyd said Overton Bark, the dog park at Overton Park (which was also partially funded by Hollywood Feed) is “crowded and pretty small” and that he wanted to get more people and dogs into such parks.
He said the $475,00 project would include water fountains and canopies to shade visitors from the sun. Boyd never said exactly how many taxpayer dollars would be spent to build the park, planned for the corner of A.W. Willis and Island Drive.
But no matter the sum, the project for dogs was enough to draw a handful of protestors to the small committee meeting at Memphis City Hall with signs that read, “Help the Needy, Not the Greedy!,” “Is this for real?,” “Why do the richest neighborhoods need government assistance?” and more.
“When it comes to seriously addressing poverty and inequity, it seems that many of our elected officials are barking up the wrong tree!” read the Tuesday post from HOPE.
The issue will come before the full council in two weeks.