The Story and Re-building of a Community’s Dog Park
The aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene ravaged more than homes and businesses in Waterbury, Vermont − it also destroyed another important part of this community.
By N. R. Mallery
Waterbury is among the most visited places in the Northeast. It is home to the world famous Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, solar-powered Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Cabot Cheese and Lake Champlain Chocolates outlets, many wineries and solar-powered Cold Cider Hollow, to name a few reasons why this is such a destination point for so many.
In 2010, residents of Waterbury began planning their town’s first off-leash dog park. A site was selected, plans were drawn and volunteers came out to help.
Then, on August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene ravaged Vermont and many areas of New England, flooding nearly every stream and river in this area. One third of all of Vermont’s property damage occurred in the small town of Waterbury.
All plans for the dog park were put on hold while the town fought to rebuild and recover from all of the devastation.
Four years later, Waterbury is nearly rebuilt, after the help of the incredible effort and strength from the community itself and from all over the state.
So, the time had come to address another important part of the Waterbury community: their dog community. So, a lot of planning and work had to be been done to finally see the Waterbury Unleashed! Dog Park project through and again become a reality.
Much planning had to be done, including re-siting the park’s location. After a lot of discussion and consideration, it was decided that it would be rebuilt at an area east of the Ice Center. The land chosen has the proper elevation above the river, is well removed yet accessible, and boasts a natural beauty that will be a very pleasant place for the dogs and owners alike.
Support for the project came from all over the state, including nearby Yestermorrow Design and Build school of Warren, Vermont, which voluntarily chose to “Go to the Dogs.” A recent timber-framing class worked with local volunteers to raise the frame on a sunshade shelter for the new dog park. The class project’s focus was to benefit an organization or community group. In this case, it just happened to be for a group of dogs, and their owners of course. “It’s made from Vermont pine, so the timber was milled locally. The pegs were hand-riven from ash that was also harvested right here in Vermont. And it’s all cut with hand tools, with very few exceptions,” said Josh Jackson, one of the Yestermorrow part-time instructors. Josh is a builder at TimberHomes, based in Vershire, Vt. The frame is 12 feet by 16 feet, all cut from local timber and held fast with theash pegs. This timber frame workshop was an opportunity for a client (Waterbury Dog Park) to have some of the costs of construction offset by the volunteer labor of the students, as they practice on saws, chisels, planes, and boring machines.
This project is just one of the community’s efforts towards the improvements to the park, Boy Scouts from Troop 701 helped out by clearing park trails. Financial support that was also needed to make this a realitycame from all around the state.
In August, 2015, it is finally time for the dogs of this community to be free to play and socialize at Waterbury Unleashed! Learn more at waterburyunleashed.com or 802-244-7174.
There are many reasons a community builds an off-leash dog park. Here are a few of the benefits for Waterbury residents:
- Providing a place for dogs and humans to socialize
- Promoting responsible pet ownership and the enforcement of dog-control laws
- Providing a place for dogs to expend their energy safely, thus reducing barking and other behavior problems
- Providing seniors and dog owners with disabilities an accessible place to exercise their companions
- Promoting public health and safety by isolating a single place where dogs can run free.
- Allowing for realistic enforcement of otherwise difficult-to-monitor ordinances, e.g., on licensing, vaccinations., etc.
- Drawing tourists. People will travel to visit the dog park, bringing their dogs and dollars with them.
- Building the community. The park will provide an opportunity to socialize with others who share the same interests.