JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Commissioners unanimously voted to recommend naming the city’s new dog park Ruff Park during its workshop May 20.
City Manager Mike Hodge will take the recommendation to the Marble Falls City Council for final approval at a later date.
The dog park is located at Westside Park at the intersection of Second Street and Avenue Q.
“I’m so happy,” said Megan Klaeger, who helped lead the creation of the new park. “I think they knew it was the right decision.”
Before taking the vote, commissioners reviewed the city’s policy on naming city facilities. Director Robert Moss said commissioners should consider factors such as significant contributions of time and money and public support for the name when voting.
The director took naming nominations for 60 days from residents, who also were asked to submit reasons why they chose to nominate that name. Many of the nominations had to do with a play on words involving dogs such as Pause for Paws. In all, 65 emails were received with 23 submissions.
“The one that rose to the top was Ruff Park,” Moss said.
He added that he received emails from a group of Marble Falls Elementary School students, who asked the commissioners to consider naming the facility the SPCA Park in honor of the nonprofit Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that finds homes for dogs and has a no-kill policy. The recommendation was to use the initials as an acronym for Super-Great Pet Rescue that Cares for Animals.
Commissioner Kendra Lewis applauded the seven students, who are part of the fourth-grade book club led by teacher Katherine Payson, for using their voices as citizens but cautioned commissioners about voting to name a public entity after a nationwide organization. Still, Klaeger was so impressed with the group that she joined the students for lunch.
Klaeger asked the commissioners to consider Ruff Park, which would honor the deceased pet of an anonymous donor who gave matching funds up to $7,500. She added that other public entities can be named after people.
“Had he not given me the amount of money, we would not have been able to move forward,” she said.
Former Marble Falls High School graduate Laura Berlin, who is a teacher at Burnet Middle School and has helped Klaeger, said she knows of dog park committees in other cities that have been trying to build a dog park for a few years.
“Having a dog park is one of those things that signifies we’re growing and we’re expanding,” she said. “The only reason this happened in this timeframe is because this donor person contributed that much. I think that’s also a great reason.”
Commissioner Leta Stevenson-Smith said she and her family recently adopted a dog named Max after being without a dog for six years. As they drove by Westside Park, Stevenson-Smith told Max the two would spend many happy hours at the dog park once he got older. So she asked him what the name of park should be.
“He said, ‘Ruff,’” she said.
Commissioners Charles Watkins and Josh Parker said their concern in voting for part of the name to be Ruff is because of the Dennis the Menace cartoon and the possibility of copyright infringement. Dennis has a dog named Ruff. Watkins said he discovered two dog parks using the name Ruff in the name: one in Monterrey, California, and the other in Midland. So he called the Midland City Hall and was told that in 20 years of operating the park, no one has ever sent a letter stating copyrights had been infringed.
The Marble Falls dog park has been opened for six months. Klaeger she has been to the park many times and has made new friends — some who live in the Highland Lakes and the Austin area and others who were driving through the area on their way to another destination for a vacation. She said this illustrates how the park has helped build new friendships among pet owners. The park, she said, has given her a community.
“I think we all applaud your efforts, Megan, in giving the community an off-leash fenced area,” Commissioner Mark McCary said.