By Katie Kuba
BUCKHANNON — Calling all canines: ground has finally been broken for an off-leash playground all your own.
Luke Brockleman of High Point Construction could be spotted Monday morning operating a D-9 bulldozer to clear the 1.4-acre area near West Virginia Wesleyan College that’s been earmarked as the new Buckhannon Community Dog Park.
Maria Bray, co-chair of the Dog Park Committee, is hopeful that the park will be ready to open as early as Sept. 4. The dog park is designed to provide a safe space in which dogs can run and play off-leash and socialize with other dogs, while also giving their human owners opportunities to interact with one another.
“I’m really excited,” Bray said last week. “There’s been a good response from the public, and it will be a good place for dogs to play and people to socialize.”
As far as Bray is concerned, all that’s needed to open the park is fencing and water stations. And a large part of the fencing portion is taken care of since the city plans to use leftover fence from the former skate park. Bray said the city plans to secure the rest of the fence from Lowe’s.
“Lowe’s has agreed to partner with us to give us the best possible price on that,” Bray said.
The one area in which park proponents could still use some help is fundraising. Right now, the committee — which functions under the umbrella of the Buckhannon Animal Care and Control Commission — has raised $11,633 of its $25,000 goal for the park. Bray says $13,000 is the minimum the committee needs to open up the park.
At the Animal Care and Control Board’s July 10 meeting, Bray and mayor David McCauley announced that the city had been awarded a $2,800 mini-grant from Try This West Virginia, a movement devoted to helping Mountain State communities access ideas and resources that improve their overall health. In addition, at a June 11 bingo event held at the Moose Lodge, the committee garnered $2,051. Other private donations have been received through a GoFundMe website set up by the city at www.gofundme.com/fxnbxw-dog-park.
Upcoming efforts include a special event at Buffalo Wild Wings during which a portion of each tab will go toward supporting the dog park. The event is slated for July 27, and those interested in participating can check out the “Dog Park Discussion” Facebook page for a coupon or stop by the dog park table at Festival Fridays.
Also, beginning this Friday at Festival Fridays, Lisa Critchfield, co-chair of the dog park committee, will be selling “Poochie Perfumes,” specially formulated mixes of essential oils for owners to spray on their hands and then rub on their dogs. The cost of each “perfume” is $10. Finally, the committee is searching for a company that can etch names of dog park contributors into bricks as a fundraiser; the bricks will likely cost $35 a piece and will be used to create a walkway and line the perimeter of the park.
Checks may also be mailed to city hall at 70 E. Main St., Buckhannon, WV 26201; simply write “dog park” in the memo line.
To keep up with the progress of the park, log on to the “Buckhannon Dog Park Discussion” Facebook page.