Thank you, City of Ashland, for the changes at Wendell Banks Southside Park, turning it into a place called Central Bark, a great dog park for our furry friends, and ultimately, our families.

The switch to a dog park came after a small dog park in Central Park proved to be extremely popular among Ashland residents; so popular, in fact, it became too small. A larger replacement was needed.

Some of the important features of this park, at the corner of Ballard and Logan streets in the South Side, in addition to wide-open spaces, include:

• Separate areas for large and small dogs.

• Restrooms for humans.

• Watering stations for dogs and humans.

• Double-lock gates for pets’ safety.

• Obstacle courses.

Plans to add toys for the canines and rehabbing the basketball court and playground (for human use, of course) are in the works.

We applaud the opening of the park for several reasons.

• It’s part of the evolution of the park, allowing the memory of Wendell Banks, for whom the park was named, to carry on and serve the public. Banks was Ashland’s first African American commissioner.

• People love their pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports more than half the households in the United States have pets and 38.4% of those households have dogs. In fact, dogs are the most popular pet in the country. Offering a fun and safe environment for dogs and their owners serves a large swath of the community.

• The park joins a list of attractive attributes the city can offer those considering moving to the area.

• Bringing Central Bark to fruition shows our city government can make a plan and follow through. The park has been in the works for eight months, one of the priorities on the commission's list of park improvements. It is now a reality.

What next? Grab a leash and go see what the fuss is about.

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