One of the results of the Mad River Valley well-being survey conducted by the Mad River Valley Planning District (MRVPD) was that community members wanted a dog park in the Mad River Valley. The Mad River Path also conducted a survey about dogs on trails and the idea of a dog park received favorable response. A committee was formed to plan what a dog park could look like, including members of the MRVPD, the Mad River Valley Recreation District and the Mad River Path, in addition to community volunteers.
MRVPD community planner Amy Tomasso, a member of the committee, presented a proposal for the park to the Warren Select Board on August 23, with other members of the committee present. The committee is proposing putting the park on a 0.09-acre parcel behind Brooks Field in Warren, by the school and skate park, though Tomasso did say they are open to suggestions for the location from the select board. It identified two potential locations behind Brooks Field. Tomasso noted that the addition of a dog park could solidify the area as a community hub, given its proximity to the school, skate park and trails.
The committee’s goals are to create access to healthy public spaces where people and dogs can socialize and promote public health and safety. It also noted that a dog park would be a benefit to tourists and visitors who come to The Valley with their pets.
According to Tomasso, the first phase of the proposed park is estimated to cost $18,345. That includes installing fencing for the main park as well as a small dog enclosure, creating a shade structure for both dogs and humans, two gates so dogs don’t escape, a play zone with two berm hills with culverts, a composting station for dog waste and signage. Phase two would include enhancements such as water, additional parking, lawn equipment and an equipment shed, which Yestermorrow has agreed to build. Phase three would include “ideal” features, such as a water feature and agility equipment for exercise.
The committee has worked with organizers of the popular Waterbury dog park to draft its proposal. In terms of management, the committee is proposing volunteers sign up to check on the state of the park weekly, making sure it’s clean, nothing is broken and there are no other issues.
The committee is interested in pursuing the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s Better Places grant to fund the project. The grant is a non-competitive community grant that matches funds raised 2:1. Tomasso said the committee would seek to crowd fund $15,000. The Better Places grant would then match that with $30,000, bringing the total funds to $45,000. The recreation district has agreed to be the fiscal sponsor for donations. The plan would be to make the dog park a nonprofit within three years so it could be self-funded in the future. The committee has brainstormed potential fundraising ideas, including a dog wash, dog beauty contest and weekly “yappy hours.”
The select board also noted that it needs to discuss the future for the proposed parcel of land to ensure no additional space will be required for further solar panels in that area.
The committee’s next steps are to talk to Warren zoning administrator Ruth Robbins as well as Warren School principal Sam Krotinger and start the process of applying for the Better Places grant. The committee will also confirm the projected costs of materials such as fencing. The committee will present the proposal to other Valley select boards in the coming weeks.