Dog Field History
Thinking the time might come to have a dog park in Anderson, park district staff began researching this national trend in the late 1990s. To get a leg-up, we visited many dog parks in other communities and learned a great deal about what it takes to put together a successful off-leash area.
In January 2003, our day came. A committee of interested citizens asked the Board of Park Commissioners for an area where they could recreate off-leash with their pets. The APD was in favor of a dog park and could provide an area in an existing park for the facility, but there was not a dime available to put toward the construction or maintenance.
The committee agreed to raise the funds since development and maintenance funds were not in the district’s budget. The park district agreed to dedicate its resources of land, expertise, labor, equipment and management skills to organize the combined efforts of staff and volunteers. It fit in perfectly with our adopted strategy to stretch APD funds and resources by partnering with citizens who would be using the facility. The APD’s Board of Park Commissioners judged that the partnership would have equity in terms of the amount of effort the volunteers would put forth, and deemed the outcome would serve a viable recreational need in our community.
The committee hit the ground running with their fund raising efforts. They created a logo, sold t-shirts, and solicited general donations though our web site and at many APD events. Each day brought more support from residents and business owners in and around Anderson Township. The donations came pouring in.
In an effort to assist our committee to raise funds and awareness for the Dog Field, our Recreation Department hosted our first “Hot-dog Parade” in August of 2003. The event took place at Riverside Park, our baseball/softball complex. By the fall of that same year, the volunteer committee had raised over $8,000 toward the $12,000 needed to open the park.
The volunteers also participated in the Wooden Nickel fundraising program in partnership with a local market, Wild Oats. The fund-raising also consisted of a Doggie Brunch/Ice-Cream Social, the sale of engraved bricks for the pavestone walkway, and engraved benches.
Other groups became involved as well. Eagle scouts volunteered to set the 100 foot pavestone walkway, Wessling Tree Service donated their labor to clear the 4 acres, a church group removed vines and brush that was entangled in the Dog Field’s existing fence, and veterinarians gave their valuable time to offer sound advice and give direction. They even sold Dog Field t-shirts and solicited donations from their places of business!
While the fundraising was taking place, the site selection process began. Nine possible APD sites were visited. Afterward, committee members and staff assessed the sites by specific criteria.
Results were complied and Kellogg Park was deemed to be the best suited – but it was going to take some time to clear, grade and seed our new Dog Field and allow it adequate time to become strong enough to endure the high volume of use we anticipated.
During the wait and to provide further incentive, a temporary dog park was created at Riverside Park where our Hotdog Parade had taken place. It was a rather simple set-up as we used the fences already in tact on one of the ball fields and used the dug out area as the transfer paddock. Our committee helped us establish rules. We utilized temporary signage so we could live and learn about which behaviors from dogs and their owners were acceptable in this social situation.
Through winter, we kept a pretty close eye on the temporary park, which experienced little turf damage. It remained on the ball field until the following spring when the ball season began. A new temporary field consisting of a two-acre area that was fenced off with orange snow fencing replaced the “original temporary field”. The popularity of this off-leash area became a good indicator of the potential success of the actual park. Even on the coldest fall and winter days, people flocked and friendships with dogs and their owners continued.
A system for our permit process for “exclusive use” was developed that was consistent with other APD exclusive use fees. The fee was set to allow for a part of the income to assist with raising funds for remaining captial improvement projects and the ongoing maintenance of the dog field.
The Kellogg Dog Field opened on August 14, 2004 in conjunction with our 2nd Annual Hotdog Parade. This facility came about due to the efforts or our volunteer committee. They have been a part of the process from the beginning and have continued to make sure the dog field lives up to its potential.