Blade is on top of the world at Bark West Dog Park. This pup is an energetic French bulldog owned by Kevin and Mary Watts. (Photo by Emily Okon)
There’s a park for kids, a park for sports and even a park for art in West Columbia.
Now, there’s a park for everyone’s barking friend.
The city of West Columbia cut the ribbon to its first unleashed, members-only dog park, called Bark West Dog Park, in mid-February.
“I’m excited for our pups to meet new dogs and meet new community members,” said Mary Watts, who visited with pups Blade and Spade.
Bark West, located on Augusta Road, is open to anyone, whether they live in West Columbia or not.
“We didn’t have any place for our furry friends to play in the city,” said Anna Huffman, the city’s director of public relations. “We have a really cool Carraway Park, which is for children of all abilities. … And then we have the Riverwalk, where you can take your dog but they have to be on a leash.”
Registering for Bark West requires proof of rabies, parvo and kennel cough vaccinations along with a spay or neuter record.
The cost of registration is an annual fee of $25 for up to two dogs. An additional dog is $10.
Bark West is open to members from sunrise to sunset with the use of a key fob once registered.
Watts immediately applied to be a member when she heard a new park had opened.
“It’s a wonderful addition to the West Columbia community,” said Watts, who lives in Richland County.
Spade is Watts’ laidback Labrador retriever, who still likes to play with her much more energetic French bulldog brother.
The park opened with 10 pre-registered members. And the ribbon-cutting ceremony enrolled more than 40 new members, who received their key fobs on-site.
“I like that it’s private and very well taken care of, and we’re looking forward to using it for years,” Watts said.
The park was built using $237,000 in hospitality tax money, also referred to as the H-tax, Huffman said.
The hospitality tax is a 2% local tax applied to prepared meals, beverages and alcoholic beverages sold in restaurants and grocery stores.
The dog park sits on 1.5 acres of land given to the city by Randy and Saradean Hallman, longtime West Columbia residents.
The Hallmans donated the land more than two years ago, but the city didn’t begin developing the property until six months ago because of the power lines that hang overhead.
Dominion Energy and Santee Cooper have rights when it comes to the use and safety of the land under power lines. This created a problem when the city decided to begin developing the land.
A dog park made good sense.
Visitors and residents can learn more about Bark West Dog Park here.
Bark West opened its gates Feb. 16. The park is open to all, regardless of where they live. (Photo by Emily Okon)
Spade is a 6-year-old black Labrador retriever and furry sibling to the energetic Blade. Spade finds her home with Mary Watts, who lives in Richland County. (Photo by Emily Okon)
Nearly 40 people and their bouncy, furry friends attended the opening ceremony at Bark West. (Photo courtesy of the city of West Columbia)
Dogs of all sizes and breeds are welcome at the park. There is even a way to separate them for safety purposes. (Photo courtesy of city of the West Columbia)
Lilly runs excitedly around the park on opening day. Her owner, Anna Huffman, is excited to have a new place for Lilly to release some energy. (Photo courtesy of the city of West Columbia)