While it has been open to the public for about a month and a half now, the Go Bark Park on Fisher Drive celebrated its grand opening earlier this week with a plethora of artistic elements and a brand new sign.
A soft opening occurred at the beginning of September, with the park itself, fencing, benches and concrete entryway in place, along with the rules and regulations sign erected.
The Go Bark Park’s bone-shaped sign, along with various signage at the corners of the park and a couple dozen metal pieces of art showing dogs in a number of different poses — digging, sniffing, stretching, pointing, even squatting — were put in place in recent weeks leading up to this week’s official ribbon-cutting.
City Councilman Steve Stefanovich acknowledged the many city officials and others who had a hand in Go Bark Park before he and City Councilman Darue Bryant — the park is in Bryant’s District 5 — cut the ribbon.
About three years ago, Stefanovich and his wife Julie took their dogs to a park out of town. When he returned, he talked glowingly about that park and discussed with then-Public Works director Jeff Vreugdenhil how such a facility come be realized in Clinton. He urged Vreugdenhil and city recreation director Jonathan Allen to come up with plans to implement a dog park locally.
“I left it to them to figure it out,” Stefanovich joked. “This was a decrepit ballfield and they did all this, giving it a new look. It’s like a resort.”
The park bears the “Go” name and logo of Stefanovich’s longtime car dealership in Clinton. He praised the many involved in seeing the park come to fruition, including Vreugdenhil, Allen and Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose. He also lauded the Sampson Community College Welding Department and Mac Maxwell, who oversaw the construction of a number of metalwork pieces.
“We asked for two pieces, and all of a sudden there were like 30 pieces,” said Stefanovich.
A stone at the entryway honors Vreugdenhil, a fellow dog lover, for his many years with the city and “his commitment to improving the lives of our citizens and furry friends.”
In June, before his retirement, Vreugdenhil proposed the establishment of the municipal dog park at Fisher Drive, to include the demolition of existing fencing and the installation of new fencing, stone walls, trees, a sign, pet waste station and an entryway that includes a concrete landing.
He foresaw a “distinguished, nice-looking, clean facility … something to make it more than just a fenced enclosure.” That is what visitors will find at Fisher Drive, many said.
S&W Ready Mix Concrete provided cement and Jimmy Tyndall’s Tyn-Co Services Inc. of Fayetteville Highway, Dunn, provided labor to finish foundations for benches and the concrete entryway. Sod was placed and landscaping done to implement green space where bleachers once stood.
Public Works crews constructed one bench utilizing some leftover materials from other city revitalization projects. There are two decorated hydrants at the entryway — one bigger than the other — to indicate the enclosure for big dogs and the one for small dogs (typically less than 25 pounds).
The park measures approximately 160 feet long by 120 feet wide. Demolition and fence construction was estimated at $8,000, all of which was in-kind or privately funded. Features come at no cost to the taxpayers, but from private donations.
Visitors to the park will be responsible for utilizing the pet waste container, which will be emptied on a regular basis by city crews. Regulations have already been posted and include age limitations — dog handlers must be 16 years of age, and children under 8 are not permitted in the fenced-in area for safety reasons.
When he proposed the dog park, Vreugdenhil touted it as a way not only for dogs to roam and play with other dogs, but for their humans to interact with each other. It could foster a sense of community that would enhance the city, he said. Stefanovich echoed that sentiment this week.
“We hope there will be more of this in our town,” said Stefanovich. “It didn’t cost the taxpayers anything. We hope to see more of this type of collaboration in the future.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.