ELLSWORTH – The village of Ellsworth may soon have a dog park, thanks to efforts by a dedicated and motivated group of community volunteers. A site has been identified and a contract is in the …
ELLSWORTH – The village of Ellsworth may soon have a dog park, thanks to efforts by a dedicated and motivated group of community volunteers. A site has been identified and a contract is in the works. The group also has two The Ellsworth Dog Park project gained momentum after the 2018 Design Ellsworth community vision initiative. Although progress on the dog park goal stalled temporarily, it’s full speed ahead for the Ellsworth Dog Park Committee, whose members include Karissa Dougherty, Eric Wanta, Alexis Aune, Mariah Moll, Rachel Henke, Ariel Mooney, Annette Langer and Kayleen Jakes.
“There was initial talk about a dog park back in 2019 when the Ellsworth community met to discuss ‘Design Ellsworth,’ and the original committee of two people talked about putting up a temporary dog park with temporary fencing to see how it went,” Dougherty said. “However, there wasn’t much movement in the project and life had just gotten so busy for one of the two people working on the project that she had to step back.”
Fast forward to December 2020. When Dougherty joined the Ellsworth E3 Community Development Corporation board (which houses the funds donated to the dog park project), she naturally gravitated toward the dog park project, a cause near and dear to her heart. She has two of her own dogs and fosters rescue dogs for a local nonprofit rescue.
The first official Ellsworth Dog Park Committee met for the first time in June 2021. The Summer Fun Series, which takes place on Thursday evenings in East End Park, is featuring the Dog Park Committee as its spotlight organization for August.
“The two meetings that we held in June and July were very productive, and we are starting to gain momentum on this project,” Dougherty said. “We are trying to meet every month, but with everyone’s busy schedules, we for sure will be planning to meet quarterly.”
Dougherty said the feedback she’s received from the public has been favorable. Not only families who have dogs, but business owners in town who feel a dog park would bring in more business, have expressed support for the project.
“Everyone that I have spoken to mentions they cannot wait for a dog park to be available,” Dougherty said. “I can only imagine with all the people moving from the Cities to beautiful Ellsworth that have dogs and were used to having dog parks available to them, I am sure they will be excited when the dog park opens.”
A location has been chosen for the dog park, Dougherty confirmed.
“We are currently writing up a contract with the landowner, so I don’t think I can officially announce the location until the contract is signed,” Dougherty said.
The committee is hoping for a few acres to provide “a fully loaded and fully functional” dog park with agility equipment, water fountains, shade for the dog owners, areas for engaging with other dog owners, parking close to the site, clean-up equipment onsite and regular maintenance.
“I visited a couple different dog parks in other towns and the biggest complaint I could see is if dogs dig holes and those holes are not filled in, that is a potential for both dogs and their owners to get hurt. So we want to make sure our community feels supported with a safe dog park for everyone and give them a way to contact us if they see the park needing attention in any manner.”
The committee will need to seek approval from the village board before the dog park is built.
“When the time comes to present this project to the village board, we would love to have all our dog-loving community members come support us,” Dougherty said.
Fundraising has begun, but to make the park a reality, the community’s financial support is needed. Estimates put the project cost at about $100,000, which would cover construction costs, fencing, amenities, any possible rezoning fees, etc.
“I know this sounds like a lot of money, but to build a sufficient, functional and safe environment for dogs and their owners, it will be worth every penny,” Dougherty said. “We don’t want just a fenced-in area. We want dogs and their people to enjoy coming to the dog park, and to do that, we need to provide not only physical, but mental stimulation for the dogs too. Providing these different amenities will not be cheap, and the park will not be cheaply made. We don’t want to have to replace equipment shortly after they arrive.”
Two fundraisers/community outeach events are in progress, Dougherty added. The first is a logo contest asking community members to submit a log design (PDF or jpg format) to [email protected] gmail.com by 11:59 p.m. Sept. 9. The winner will receive $50 in Ellsworth Bucks. The committee will vote and announce the winner on Sept. 17 via email and Facebook.
The second fundraiser is a raffle basket of dog goodies worth $175 retail. People can buy tickets 5-7 p.m. Aug. 19 and Aug. 26 at the Summer Fun Series at East End Park in Ellsworth. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. The winner will be drawn at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26. The winner does need to be present to win, but must submit their name and phone number on the ticket.
The committee is also beginning to write a business plan in order to plan for ongoing annual expenses. If anyone in the community is proficient at writing business plans, the committee needs you. You can reach out to them at [email protected] gmail.com
Photo courtesy of Karissa Dougherty