Barking up the right tree

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Couple’s donation will allow dog park to open in spring

By Lisa King

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Terry and Patricia Kay are crazy about animals – so much so that a Shelby County park  soon will open with the help of their generosity.

The couple’s donation will enable the Michael Kay Bark Park, to be located at Red Orchard Park, to become a reality next spring, Shelby County Parks and Recreation Director Clay Cottongim said.

“We appreciate what they have done very much,” he said. “We are still looking for more donations to add some more benches and fountains, but the funding is basically in place.”

Cottongim said the park would bear the name of the couple’s son, who died in 2004 of cancer.

The park will consist of 5 acres, which will be divided into sections for large and small dogs. A 3-acre section will be designated for dogs weighing 30 pounds or more, and the remainder will be for dogs weighing less than 30 pounds.

Cottongim said that even though the funding is in place now, the dog park won’t be finished until spring because the ground is so hard and dry that putting up the fencing would be very difficult.

The Kays, who have a membership at the Family Activity Center, became interested in donating money to the park after they received a newsletter from the FAC stating that the dog park project would have to be put on hold because the parks department did not get the grant it had been expecting to provide the funding.

 “That’s when we decided we wanted to do this,” Patricia Kay said. “And we wanted to name if for Michael because he loved animals so much.”

She said her son’s passion for animals was so strong that even when he was extremely ill  his main concern was about who would take care of his two cats.

Michael Kay, who was 37 when he passed away of a blood cancer called Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,  lived in Florida when he became ill, so his parents moved from Chicago to be with him.


Unique local park

After his death on Christmas Eve 2004, they knew they didn’t want to stay in Florida, but Patricia Kay said they didn’t really want to go back to Chicago, either.

“We had a friend who lived in Lexington who told us that Shelbyville was a really nice town, so we moved here,” she said.

The couple has three dogs – West Highland White Terriers named Mattie, Brizzy  and Angel –they expect will be regular visitors to the dog park.

 “I’m sure they will love it,” Patricia Kay said.

When it is completed in the spring, the Michael Kay Bark Park will join the ranks of more than 50 other dog parks. Dogparkusa.com lists 45 Kentucky communities that have dog parks, including Lexington, with five parks, and Louisville, four.

In the area surrounding Shelbyville, only Franklin, Jefferson and Hardin counties have dog parks, although Oldham County has one included in its master plan, Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Gary Parsons said.

“It’s not something we are working on right now, but we really have a need for it, and we are thinking about doing something in the future, maybe similar to what the Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville has done,” he said.


Lots of donors

In Shelby County, the Kays join the ranks of people who have donated land or money for parks, including Diane and Roger Shott, who donated a 387-acre farm at Todds Point that recently was named Shelby Trails, and Clarence Miller, who two years ago donated his family farm of 131 acres to become Red Orchard Park.

Many other people and organizations have contributed money, labor or services for numerous park improvements, encompassing everything from new restrooms to new lighting systems. Those efforts also include a variety of improvements for Red Orchard, including a new handicap ramp at the Miller House, new playground equipment and $10,000 donated by Mr. and Mrs. Gene Pflughaupt in honor of Dr. Ron Waldridge for the Miller Outdoor Education Center.

Cottongim said he appreciates all of these contributions very much.

“Our community has really pulled together to do a great deal for our parks system, especially this fall, and we really want to thank the Kays for their generosity,” he said.