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Dog park is a model for motivated citizens

April 21, 2010
Times-Republican

"Join us for the planning, the building, the fun."

That's how the Marshalltown Dog Park Committee formally initiated its campaign last July to build a 4.5acre fenced-in, leash-free dog park in Riverview Park.

Their goal to raise $30,000 in a soft economy while competing against many other worthwhile projects in this community was bold.

Committee chairperson Nancy Earney of Marshalltown confirmed that sentiment once in discussing the project with the Times-Republican.

"We were concerned staring out, considering the economy," Earney said. "The timing was precarious."

Indeed it was. But the committee organized by many project advocates, visited other dog parks in Iowa, planned their campaign and worked aggressively to reach their goal.

While bold, their dream was not impossible.

They learned eight other Iowa cities had, or were constructing dog parks as well. Marshalltown is now number nine.

As of last week the committee had raised more than $30,000 and donations are still coming in - all in less than one year.

If the weather cooperates, the committee and area citizens may be able to exercise their dogs in the park this June.

Bids have been awarded for fencing and concrete, two major park components.

The park will feature numerous trees for shade and comfort, 3.5 acres will be available for big dogs and 0.7 acres for small dogs, water, manure receptacles and a double gate entry for safety.

It is handicapped accessible.

"This was a perfect example of private-public partnership," said committee member Bill Martin of Marshalltown.

He is correct.

Park advocates wisely did their homework and identified the city's Parks and Recreation Department as a possible public partner.

They worked early on with Parks and Recreation Director Terry Gray and others to have the park included in Riverview Park's master plan.

Once that designation was complete and other work done, the committee embarked on its fundraising campaign.

They touched all the bases in that effort.

Their campaign included tax-deductible donations from direct mail solicitations, grant applications from corporations like Wal-Mart, wine and food tasting events at Hy-Vee Drugstore, T-shirt sales, thrift-sales, silent auctions and fund raising sponsorships by local taverns. Commemorative bricks were sold which will form a walk-way in the park.

Importantly, no city funds will be used for park construction, nor will city staff the park once it opens. The Parks and Recreation Department will administer the collection of registration fees and issuance's of tags for park use.

Fittingly, park users will help pay for its use once it opens.

Committee vice-chairperson Kara Wildman said fees collected from day and season passes will be applied to park clean up, grass-cutting expense and related costs.

"The park is a dream come true," said committee member Jeannine Heng of Marshalltown.

Also true is that the Dog Park Committee can serve as a model for other citizens who wish to move their projects from the idea to the completion phase regardless of a soft economy.

 
 

 

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