By Kim Steele
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - Dave and Ginger Bell couldn't wait to introduce Toby to the other small dogs playing Saturday in one of the new fenced dog parks at Purser Family Park.
"We have been waiting for this park to open for weeks," said Ginger Bell. "We have driven by every week for about four months to see if it was done. It's great, and we'll be coming out several times a week."
The Harker Heights residents escorted their 4-year-old miniature dachshund into the dog park, then watched as he pranced off and sniffed his playmates. The couple was one of about 60 dog owners enjoying the separate parks for large and small canines during the park's grand opening celebration.
The park, at 100 W. Mountain Lion Road, features the two dog parks, a disc golf course, a playground, a mile-long concrete trail, new restroom facilities and two pavilions. The opening included information tables manned by area pet adoption centers, a veterinary clinic and a disc golf club.
Heather Cox, coordinator for the Harker Heights Activities Center, said the Parks and Recreation Department is proud of the two new dog parks, which are the first and only ones in Bell County.
"I've come out here on my own time and the dog parks are packed," said Cox. "And everyone who uses them is friendly. The dog parks create a community feel and help people bond through their puppies. This is a great, new part of the city because it includes amenities we haven't had before."
Sara Dawalt, who lives just across the city line in Killeen, guided her 22-month-old son, Michael Dawalt, as he tried to climb up the blue sliding board in the playground area. Dawalt said her family already has been using the walking trail for a month.
"I think the park is wonderful," she said. "The neighborhood needed something like this, and I think it was a stroke of genius for Harker Heights to build it here."
Nearby, Killeen resident Paul Lang pedaled his mountain bike on the concrete trail as his wife, Heather, and daughters, Madalyn, 8, and Sophia, 5, walked it. Lang said it was the second weekend he has visited.
"The trail is fantastic," he said. "It winds around and connects to my neighborhood, which is nice. I'm really happy to have this park. There's nothing like it in this area, and it's a family park that everyone can enjoy."
City Councilman Spencer Smith, Place 5, watched as residents made use of the dog parks and chatted with each other. Smith credited the Purser family for providing the land to the city so it could be made into a park.
"This is a quality-of-life issue and something in which the community can take pride," said Smith. "I'm very happy with the park and how people are beginning to use it."
Contact Kim Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7567.