OKLAHOMA CITY - Big changes are coming to the metro's largest dog park. The Paw Park at Lake Hefner will soon become members only.

Volunteers with the Paw Park nonprofit said in two months-time, you will have to pay to play with your pooch. They did not take the decision lightly.

Since 2003, volunteers have relied solely on donations to keep the place running, but Paw Park president Charles Allen said sadly, that is simply no longer a possibility.

“The founders really wanted this to be a park for everybody in Oklahoma City to use,” Allen said. “Our society has changed. Nobody carries cash on them anymore, it seems like. We’re just not able to get enough daily donations.”

Annual costs for the nonprofit are between $8,000 and $10,000, including the lease of land, insurance and water bills, and of course, the inevitable mud pits that develop.

“This weekend we brought in two pickup loads of dirt and filled it in,” Allen said.

Other projects have fallen by the wayside for years because there is just not enough to get it done, like more canopies for shade and a replacement retaining wall by the lake.

“Instead of the rip-rap you’re seeing here protecting the slope, there’s a new product called Flexamat, that we’re hoping to see if we can get some of that put in here,” Allen said.

Starting July 1, the gates will open for members only. The cost will be $10 per month for most, or $100 per year. Seniors, service members and pet owners with special needs will receive a discount of $8 per month, or $80 per year.

“It’s kind of a two-fold,” Allen explained. “We’re not only trying to sustain the park financially, but also to help ensure that the rules are being followed.”

Allen said families constantly bring children under 10 years of age despite signage throughout the park. It has also been hard to be sure dogs are vaccinated, but members will show proof from their veterinarian when they apply, starting in mid-May.

The Paw Park organizers will explain more details at a series of upcoming community meetings, happening at the park:

Tuesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 11 at 10 a.m.

Sunday, May 12 at 3 p.m.

Friday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Once applications open, they will be available at the park and online. To learn more, click here.