The much-anticipated dog park on Fisher Drive opens to the public Friday, with new benches, landscaping, pet waste station and two large enclosures for dogs both big and small.
While Friday marks the official opening of the park, a grand opening celebration will be scheduled for a later date.
“This will be called a soft opening,” City of Clinton Recreation director Jonathan Allen said Thursday, noting that a soft opening is one held prior to a grand opening/ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The dog park has progressed over the past three months since being announced at the City Council’s meeting in early June. The anticipation for the newly constructed area, which has taken the place of a deteriorated ball field, has been similarly building over that time. City officials have expressed their hopes the park can fill a niche in this community while breathing life into a forgotten area tucked off the downtown square.
“We have received a lot of positive feedback from the community about this added amenity,” Allen said. “We have rules signs installed, water is available, but owners will need to bring a dish for their dog to drink from. We also have a pet poop disposal station. We are asking the public to help us keep the park clean.”
In June, then-Public Works director Jeff Vreugdenhil proposed the establishment of the municipal dog park at Fisher Drive Park. The proposal included 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. All of that has since come to fruition.
“The additional hardscape features that we will provide will make this a very distinguished, nice-looking, clean facility,” Vreugdenhil said at the time. “It is something to make it more than just a fenced enclosure.”
According to the American Kennel Club, dog parks allow dogs to exercise safely and socialize with other dogs.
“They also foster a sense of community, which is something we are big on here,” Vreugdenhil noted. “It enhances our community greatly through interaction between citizens and animals.”
Now constructed and in place, the concrete landing will give dog owners the opportunity to go into a confined area as they take their dog off the leash. 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).
S&W Ready Mix Concrete provided cement and Tyn-Co Services Inc. of Fayetteville Highway, Dunn, provided labor to finish foundations for future benches and the landing area. 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. Trees were also planted and water features inside the park may be on the horizon.
The park measures approximately 160 feet long by 120 feet wide. Demolition and fence construction was estimated at $8,000. Features come at no cost to the taxpayers, but from private donations.
“It is in the same vein as a lot of the open space planning we have been doing for pedestrians throughout Clinton,” Vreugdenhil said. “It will be very tasteful with well-thought-out rules and regulations.”
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.
Among other rules:
• Owners must remain with their dog at all times and carry a leash in fenced-in areas.
• Dogs must have current vaccinations and must wear a collar with current rabies certification. Dog ID tags are encouraged.
• Puppies must be at least 4 months old to use the park, due to risk of parvo.
• Dogs in heat are prohibited and dogs must be removed at first sign of aggression.
• Digging, food and glass containers are prohibited.
Over time, Public Works crews may be able to work on further improvements to the park when they are not paving streets and working on city projects. Among some of those additions, more trees, benches and features such as exercise modules could take their place in the adjacent area, all to be funded privately.
Features and sponsorships, including signs in honor and memory of pets, are another option that other dog parks have installed.
“I think you will see quite a bit of interest in this,” said Vreugdenhil. “It is nothing new, but it is unique for our area.”
A decorative sign for the dog park, tentatively called Go Bark Park, will soon take its place.
“We are working on final elements of it,” Allen remarked. “We may add other elements in the future.”
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