PITTSBURG — The City of Pittsburg received a donation Tuesday that will allow the creation of the city’s first dog park.
Jim Hoskins, trustee of the Ronald O. Thomas Foundation, presented a check for $50,000 to Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Director Kim Vogel during the Pittsburg City Commission meeting Tuesday. The funds will be used to build the city’s first dog park at Schlanger Park.
The dog park will be named the Ronald O. Thomas Dog Park in honor of the late donor, whom Hoskins said was a dog lover.
“Ron always thought of dogs as ‘tweens,” Hoskins said. “They weren’t just animals, but they weren’t quite children, but they were his best friends.”
The dog park fits into the city’s Mid-City Renaissance project, which calls for additional recreation spaces. Aimed at revitalizing the center of town, the project will transform the 386-acre area just east of Pittsburg’s downtown district. The redevelopment plan includes the former Mission Clay site, Schlanger Park and surrounding neighborhoods.
The fenced dog playground will offer more than 26,000 square feet of play space and feature two separate areas for small and large dogs. The park will also include play equipment, such as ramps, tunnels and jump hoops.
Vogel said the results of a community parks survey conducted by Pittsburg State University students recently showed “dog park” as the number one write-in for park needs.
The dog park is one of many improvements to Schlanger Park scheduled for next year. Construction on new pickle ball courts and tennis courts are also underway. City crews will begin construction on the new dog park this winter and estimate the completion of the project in summer of 2018.
Ronald O. Thomas was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but adopted by Lee and Pauline Thomas from Baxter Springs. He attended the University of Kansas and served as a law clerk for former Kansas Governor and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Walter A. Huxman. He then left for New York to practice law, before retiring to his hometown of Baxter Springs.
Before his death, he created the Ronald O. Thomas Foundation to support charitable organizations in the southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri.