| Danielle Eaton
SOUTH HADLEY – The South Hadley Dog Park will celebrate one year of four-legged fun at their upcoming celebration/grand opening.
Board member Janet Shea said the dog park opened during the coronavirus pandemic, meaning they never got to host a grand opening celebration. “It’s a great dog park and people are using it. We’ve gotten many compliments bout how great it is. We wanted to have a celebration, but because of COVID[-19] could not,” she said.
In the year since the dog park officially opened its gates, Shea said the park has been used frequently by both town residents and people who live in surrounding communities. “My sister-in-law lives in Easthampton and they come and use it. It’s very busy, especially in the evening hours. Probably like 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. or 9 a.m. 11 a.m. is busy in the after/early evening [and] in the afternoon/early evening, like after people get out of work and stuff,” she said.
The event at the South Hadley Dog Park will take place at 14 Mulligan Dr. on Oct. 2 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. with remarks and a ribbon cutting taking place at 1 p.m. Shea said the rain date for the event is Oct. 16. She added that the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School was allowing people to park in their lot for the day of the event. However, she emphasized that people should not walk their dogs the school property during or after the event and people should clean up after themselves.
The grand opening and one year celebration for the 1.8-acre dog park will feature vendors, speakers and raffles. Shea said South Hadley Town Administrator Michael Sullivan, who assisted in securing funding for the project, will be in attendance at the event. “Mike Sullivan is coming. He helped us a lot with being the liaison between the Stanton Foundation, they funded the majority of the cost,” she said. “He’s going to say something, [and] the co-presidents are going to say something.”
Additionally, Shea said dog photographs would be available at the event as well as a face painter and a drumming performance by Jan Lucier. Vendors at the event will include Gail Kainen Herbal Dog Biscuits, Nikki’s Loud Night Owl Knots & Co., Happy Home Pet Sitting Service, Siobhan Cullen’s Irish Rover Homemade Dog Collars, Witchy Works 666, Aidmarie Colon’s clay jewelry, Mariah Robles’ Blue Dahlia Delights. Greg Quimby from Liberty Mutual Insurance will be at the event to provide information on pet insurance. The event will also feature both a 50/50 and basket raffle with prizes from local businesses.
Shea said while they were waiting to see if the town of South Hadley changed their criteria for masking outdoors, they would be following whatever guidance the town issues at the time of the event. “Right now everything is outside, so there’s no mask mandates outside. There was a point when we first opened people had to wear masks outside. Those requirements are so fluid, if it takes place, if they say there’s a mask mandate we will follow it, it’s a big enough park where people can socially distance,” she said.
While the occasion will serve as a celebration, Shea said the event will also act as a fundraiser for the park. “The dog park is a self-sustained thing. Our taxes don’t go towards that. Every month we have to pay for the dumpster, the port-a-potty, landscaping, all the repairs that get done, any woodchips that need to be replaced, any of that kind of stuff – even the poop bags we have to buy, the insurance,” she said. “All that money goes into our account and as expenses come up we pay for them.”
She said while there were “a couple of projects” the Friends of the South Hadley Dog Park would like to complete, they were fund-dependent. “We would like to have a shed, but that costs money. There’s also some erosion that we didn’t anticipate from the very wet, rainy season we had. That stuff getting repaired, it’s going to be costly,” she said. “It’s all sustained by the friends of the South Hadley Dog Park, taxes do not go for it.”
Donations and volunteers, she said, were always welcomed and appreciated. “Right on the gate we have a QRS code, we have the South Hadley Dog Park website, they can go to the website whenever they want,” she said.
“If anyone wants to volunteer they can reach out to us, they just have to attend the meetings. It would be wonderful if people wanted to help out,” she added.
Shea said she was excited to let people know the dog park was open and raise awareness of funding. “I’m just excited to get the publicity, let people know we’re here and let people know it’s not part of the town’s money that pays for it,” she said.
For more information and ways to donate, people are encouraged to visit the South Hadley Dog Park Facebook page or visit https://southhadleydogpark.org/.