Overton Bark celebrates grand opening

(WMC-TV) - After months of planning and construction, the new "Overton Bark" is officially open in Overton Park.

"This park has been the center of Memphis -- it needs to continue to be that and be clean and be a place where people will come," said Congressman Steve Cohen.

Hundreds of people and their pets participated in the grand opening.

"You know, I own two dogs and don't have an area I can let them run out -- so this is perfect for the city," said pet owner Amber Lee.

The Overton Park Conservancy, which manages the park for the city, not only wanted to provide an off leash area for dogs, but harness the longtime problem of lewd behavior in the nearby woods.

"Anytime you bring more pets into an area and have a lot more you're going to feel safer -- you're going to feel the park is being used the way it should be," stated Tina Sullivan with Overton Park Conservancy.

In April, Action News 5 exposed 69 year-old suspect James Kenneth Faulk who was charged at the time with exposing himself to a teenager and adult inside the park.

Trimmers filled 100 dump trucks with underbrush from the old forest during the dog park's construction..

"I mean, now there's nothing but wholesome activity here by anyone's standards, whenever," said Mayor A.C. Wharton.

It appears this part of Overton Park has changed for the better, for more than just our four-legged friends.

The Overton Park Conservancy plans to improve the playground next. There will also be private security working the park in addition to regular patrols by Memphis Police.

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