May 3 will bring good news for dog lovers.
On that day at 11 am, Newtown’s off-leash dog park will celebrate its grand opening and ribbon cutting at the recently constructed facility on Old Farm Road below the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard facility. The park will not be open to the public until then.
Based on the feedback she has heard from the public, Assistant Director of Recreation RoseAnn Reggiano said, “People can’t wait. Cannot wait.”
Ms Reggiano is also anxious for the park to open. “I am so excited!”
As rain fell Tuesday, April 15, she said, “I am happy it’s raining — hoping the grass will grow.” The lawn is among a few of the final details that remain to be completed.
A recent brick fundraising campaign “generated a good response,” Ms Reggiano said, and those bricks should be arriving this week, and will soon be installed. Other final adjustments include installing several benches and signs. Water features may not be ready by the grand opening, but water will be made available for the pets, she said.
What can people and pooches expect that morning? Guests with dogs will enter the park using a leash. After a brief ribbon cutting and a few words from town officials, guests can let the dogs go in groups, rather than all at once Ms Reggiano said.
“It will be quick, everyone will be happy,” she promised.
Guests can park at Reed Intermediate School or in the horse guard lot since the space around the park is limited.
Regarding a final budget of $225,000, which came from fundraising, beneficiaries, and budget money, Ms Reggiano said, “We got everything we wanted” for the park and its features.
“I can’t believe it’s really happening,” she said of the project, which started with a modest budget request of $50,000 for fencing.
Park construction, which started in mid-2013, includes benches, a fountain, water features, agility equipment, and more. According to NewtownParkandBark.org, the mission “is to create a well-designed dog park for the enjoyment of Newtown residents as well as to continue fundraising events to provide the resources for ongoing maintenance of the park.”
The website also answers the question of why Newtown needs a dog park: “There are currently 1,850 dogs registered in Newtown. Today, dogs are prohibited from entering town parks, and must be leashed on all public property. Official dog parks offer residents an opportunity to exercise and socialize their dogs in a safe and secure park setting, while getting to know other dog lovers in town.”
The dog park also has its own “special angel,” the site states.
Newtown Park & Bark was honored, according to the website, to have been chosen for contributions made in the memory of Olivia Rose Engel. Olivia was one of the children killed on 12/14.
Dog Park Rules
A volunteer group, Friends of Newtown Park and Bark worked with Parks & Recreation staff to establish dog park rules:
Dogs must have a valid license and up to date rabies vaccinations.
Licenses and rabies tags must be displayed on a dog’s collar/harness.
Dogs must be accompanied by their owner/custodians at all times.
Dogs must be under voice-control and in sight of the owner/custodian at all times.
Owners/customers must clean up after their dog and dispose of waste properly, using appropriate waste receptacles.
Female dogs in heat and aggressive dogs will be prohibited from the park at all times. Dogs younger than four months should not be brought into the park.
There is a limit of three dogs per adult per visit.
Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult and closely supervised at all times.
Admission to the dog park is limited to those accompanied by a dog.
Smoking, alcoholic beverages and food are prohibited.
Dogs should remain leashed until fully within the dog park. Dogs need to be put back on their leashes before exiting the park. Visitors should also be prepared to leash their dog upon any sign of aggressive behavior.
The park’s splash pad is designed to serve dogs only. The water is not potable.
Agility equipment is designed for dogs only. Children should not be in water feature or on agility equipment.
No private dog training lessons.