It was the late Mary Warner Mack, her love for her dog Ava, and their hikes on the Anne Springs Close Greenway that inspired the new dog park that bears Mack’s name. Let the record show the first paws to touch the pristine turf beyond the park’s gate were Ava’s.
The park, dedicated Saturday, was created as part of the Greenway’s Nature Needs You capital campaign that raised more than $12.5 million, including $200,000 for the dog park, in the past year.
Mack, a Fort Mill native, was a Nation Ford High School graduate who died last summer at 23 after a sudden illness. Her family proposed the idea of naming the park after her and became major drivers of the project, Greenway officials said.
“Thank the Mack family,” Anne Springs Close said while dog owners lined up outside the gate to a holding area where dogs can be unleashed.
“They made this happen.”
Once inside the holding area, unleashed dogs and their owners can enter either the “big dog” gates – for canines more than 30 pounds – or “small dog” gates on the opposite side. Both lead to a 12-acre sod-covered, tree-lined slice of doggie heaven where the pooches Saturday ran, jumped for Frisbees, chased balls, rolled in the grass and socialized.
One of the park’s prime features is a mile-long, off-leash wooded trail that leads to Lake Frances and then loops back to the main park area. It also has a dog bathing station, hydration stations and portable bathrooms and hand-washing stations for humans.
It’s located just inside the section of the Greenway that used to be known as the Field Trial Barn for the catering facility there. It has been renamed Adventure Road. Other trail heads and the Adventure Center facility used by local schools are a short walk from the new dog park.
Dog-themed sculptures created by Lancaster-based artist Bob Doster adorn the park.
“It’s beautiful,” Fort Mill resident Lisa Horney.
An open house for visitors was Saturday. At 2 p.m., the park became a members-only facility. Greenway members can pay an extra $10 a month for dog park access.
Horney brought her German shepherd to visit, and although she wasn’t a member, she said she plans to be.
“If not today, this week,” she said.
“I love it,” said Joanie Mullis of Tega Cay. “It’s beautifully maintained.”
A Greenway member who signed up for the dog park on Friday, Mullis said her dog will appreciate the lake. “I can let him swim down there and play up here,” she said.
“It’s beautiful,” said Terry Bruster of Fort Mill, who along with his wife Alison Bruster took their mixed breed for a test run.
For more information about the Greenway, its various programs and membership information, go to ascgreenway.org.
Michael Harrison • 803-547-2353