Park Pals determined to keep dog park a desirable destination

 

The huge success and popularity of the South Dundas Dog Park in Morrisburg has not come without a few glitches, says Park Pals committee co-chairs Tracey Veinotte and Janeen Wagemans.

Even during the coldest days of the past winter, Wagemans estimates a minimum of 20 dogs and their owners visited the park each day and on summer evenings last year it was common to see upwards of 20 dogs, at one time, enjoying the park. 

“It is good that we have the traffic,” says Veinotte. “But it’s chewing the land up, so our agenda right now is ‘how do we keep it nice?”.

Earlier this spring volunteers roped off the heavy traffic entry area in the park for large dogs, planted grass seed and added fertilizer to assist the grassed area to recover.

Although the original park design called for more bricking in the entry area, there was not enough money available.

“Wendy (Montreal landscape architect Wendy Graham who designed the park) also pointed out that in the first year or two we would see what needed to be done, so that is what we are now seeing,” said Wagemans.

The current plan to alleviate the ‘wear’ problem is to dig down and add crushed stone in a semi-circular pattern out from the gate entry and around the landscaping rocks where the dogs and their owners tend to gather. An additional set of three rocks will be added farther away from the entry in a effort to move some of the congestion from the affected area.

The Park Pals committee has also identified the need for drainage, a watering system and lighting. 

To put these needs in place they have launched a Mother’s Day Draw which they expect will be their final ‘major’ fund raiser.

“Our donation box had been broken into twice so we are hoping the light will deter that,” says Veinotte, with Wagemans pointing out, “The money is  removed from the box every day, and although we are generally only talking a couple of dollars here and there, it is a nice contribution.”

In addition, park users who work have expressed the need for lighting in the fall and early winter, when darkness falls early before they are able to get home from work and get their pooches to the park.

Veinotte and Wagemans and several of the original Park Pals committee members (Willie Harper, Barb O’Neill and Sandra Van Allen) are delighted with the use the park is getting from local dog owners and especially people from Iroquois, Williamsburg, Winchester, Ingleside and Long Sault on a regular basis. In addition, there is the travelling public that searches out the park.

“I didn’t really believe a dog park would draw people in, even though all the literature said it would,” said Wagemans. “I thought, oh yeah right, but there are actually quite a lot of people coming in.”

The Park Pals committee is once again looking for the support of the community, especially dog lovers and dog owners, for their upcoming Mother’s Day raffle.

Tickets are $5 each and there are six prizes up for grabs. The top three prizes include a new IPAD 3, a $200 Canadian Tire Gift Certificate and a $100 Riley’s Valu-mart Gift Card. The draw will be made Sunday, May 13 at the South Dundas Dog Park and the Park Pals will have the tickets for sale this coming weekend at Valu-Mart and on the Mother’s Day weekend at Canadian Tire.

Any park users who could help with ticket sales over the next couple of weeks, or ticket sales or projects (maintenance) in the future are invited to contact either Veinotte or Wagemans.

The Park Pals are estimating that they need approximately $7,000 to complete their work plan which includes about $1,900 for irrigation, $1,800 for gravel and $3,300 for electrical. They are hoping to raise $2,000 towards the final project from the draw.

“If we can get it set up correctly, our goal is to have it a maintenance free park,” said Wagemans.

Once maintenance free, the Park Pals committee will continue to hold their annual Duck Draw to raise money for minor expenses, such as the cost of the waste collection bags and water.

“If we don’t do all the crazy things we do to keep the dog park the way it is, then I’m afraid it is not going be as nice in the future,” says Veinotte. “We absolutely appreciate that the area is very special to a lot of people and we want to keep it looking the way people are proud of it.”

 

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