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Dog lovers polish puppy park

Staff Sgt. Paul Melicia, 39th Security Forces Squadron, removes broken fence boards at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Staff Sgt. Paul Melicia, 39th Security Forces Squadron, removes broken fence boards at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Staff Sgt. Kevin Kirk, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, removes fence boards from a pond at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Staff Sgt. Kevin Kirk, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, removes fence boards from a pond at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Staff Sgt. Kitsana Dounglomchan, 39th Force Support Squadron, left, and Staff Sgt. Paul Melicia, 39th Security Forces Squadron, try to start a mower at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Staff Sgt. Kitsana Dounglomchan, 39th Force Support Squadron, left, and Staff Sgt. Paul Melicia, 39th Security Forces Squadron, try to start a mower at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Staff Sgt. Paul Melicia, 39th Security Forces Squadron, mows at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Staff Sgt. Paul Melicia, 39th Security Forces Squadron, mows at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Senior Airman Christopher Tolczyk, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, fixes the line on a trimmer at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Senior Airman Christopher Tolczyk, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, fixes the line on a trimmer at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Volunteers mow, pick up trash and debris, and repair fence boards at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours making the dog park a better place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Volunteers mow, pick up trash and debris, and repair fence boards at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours making the dog park a better place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Jennifer Fletcher, 39th Air Base Wing, nails a board into a fence post at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Jennifer Fletcher, 39th Air Base Wing, nails a board into a fence post at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Volunteers' pets play while their owners gather trash and debris, mend fences, and mow and trim greenery at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours making the dog park a better place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Volunteers' pets play while their owners gather trash and debris, mend fences, and mow and trim greenery at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours making the dog park a better place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Cassandra Dounglomchan, 39th Medical Support Squadron, takes a break from cleanup to play with her dog at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Cassandra Dounglomchan, 39th Medical Support Squadron, takes a break from cleanup to play with her dog at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Senior Airman Christopher Tolczyk, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, takes a break from cleanup to play with his puppy at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)
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Senior Airman Christopher Tolczyk, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, takes a break from cleanup to play with his puppy at the base dog park April 21, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Twelve volunteers spent five hours gathering trash and debris, mending fences, and mowing to provide a place for the base's furry residents to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Twelve members of Team Incirlik swept away the figurative cobwebs at the base dog park as they spent five weekend hours beautifying a seemingly forgotten corner of the base. People from various units on base gathered at the park April 21 with gloves, rakes, shovels and mowers and set to work to repair the puppy playground.

Staff Sgt. Paul Melicia, 39th Security Forces Squadron, with assistance from fellow service members, started the process of getting approval for the project in December when they recognized a need and desire for use of the dog park.

It was when storms blew in and winds knocked the fence over that Melicia really desired to pursue the project, he said.

After coordinating with the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron to get approval to repair and maintain the area, as well as to use the tools from self-help, the crew took to planning the cleanup and solicited volunteers.

Some volunteers weed wacked, mowed and trimmed. Others gathered trash and debris, mended the fence gate and repaired the fence boards and posts.

"We were able to put up a majority of the fence, made a stone path, and we tried to take care of the pond the best we could. We were going to empty it so dogs wouldn't jump into dirty, stagnant water, but we didn't have the tools necessary to do it," Melicia said.

Like the antiquated idea of a drive-in movie experience, the dog park was once a frequented venue for base members to bring their furry companions - whether it was for play time with other pups or to exert some energy outside the confines of the smaller backyards in housing.

"When I first got here, there was a military member who volunteered his own time and resources to take care of it, and he did a really good job," Melicia recalled. "Everybody used to go to the dog park all the time (in 2009)."

Now members can once again utilize the facility as a place to let dogs run free.

However, Melicia warned, the fence likely won't keep in the high-jumping canines.

"The main purpose of it is it goes against (Air Force instructions) to let your dog off the leash on base, so it's really the only authorized place to let your dogs off the leash where they're contained and they can get the exercise they need," said Melicia, who has three dogs: a border collie, a Siberian husky, and a mixed-breed. "We'll go out every weekend. It's a good place to bring our dogs."

While the dog park is usable, there are still some repairs the volunteers hope to make in the future.

"We worked until we ran out of gas in the mowers," said Melicia. "We're going to go back out, but we got a lot done for the amount of time and the amount of people we had.

"It should get easier with time, because what we did Saturday" was pretty significant, he added. "With all that out of the way, it should be less time consuming in the future."

People interested in volunteering for cleanup and maintenance at the dog park can call DSN 676-6565.