Group’s fundraising for dog park progressing

3/23/2017 | Chris Maza

Category: March

This map displays the proposed layout and location of the Terriers Unleashed Dog Park.
Reminder Publications submitted photo

One local nonprofit is getting ready to “unleash” a major fundraising effort in West Springfield.

The dog owners group teaming with the West Springfield Park and Recreation Department in the push to build the Terriers Unleashed Dog Park, is ramping up its plans to raise money to cover construction costs.

The dog park, a proposed space for four-legged friends to run free at Mittineague Park, would be situated near the park’s entrance on Route 20 behind the community gardens. The completely fenced-in area would feature separate areas for large and small dogs, drinking stations, waste stations, pavilions, paved walkways and playscapes.

The Stanton Foundation, which, among other things, supports canine welfare projects such as mobile adoption vans and police K-9 units in addition to dog parks, approved a substantial grant for the West Side park, but park organizers are still responsible for 10 percent of the total cost of construction. The Terriers Unleashed Dog Park will cost an estimated $250,000 to build.

With no taxpayer dollars being used for the project, in order make the plans a reality, the group must generate the required $25,000 on their own.

Early efforts have been well received.

Most recently, the organization received additional grant funding that would pay for the gates for the park.

The group sponsored a Halloween party for dogs in October that featured a costume contest and doggie trick or treat stations. More recently in December, a bake sale was deemed highly successful, raising $500. Bob Fastie, owner of The Crest Room, also independently conducted a fundraiser in which he raffled off a basket of liquor, raising $645.

“The local businesses have been extremely supportive, the town has been extremely supportive,” owners group member Sarah Foley said.

However, as the calendar has turned to 2017, the group has set its sights on making a big splash.

"We’re looking to do bigger fundraisers instead of a bunch of smaller ones,” Foley explained. “We’re all volunteers and everyone has busy lives so we want to make sure what we do is as big as possible and has as big an impact as we can get.”

The group have a plethora of events in the works.

Local restaurants have agreed to host nights during which a portion of the proceeds would benefit the dog park. A trivia night will take place April 27 at the Dante Club. A “Barks and Brews” beer tasting, a paint night at which participants would decorate dog bowls and pictures with the Easter Bunny are all in various stages of planning as well.

Details on events will be shared when they are available on the group’s Facebook page,

Foley and fellow owners group member Bridget Fiala think the public response to the upcoming fundraisers will be strong given how enthusiastic the public has been to the proposal so far.

“Feedback from the town has been very positive,” Fiala said. “There’s not huge pushback. There has been some conversation about where it’s going and there were some neighbors that had some concerns, so we’re working on addressing those, but overall, the dog park seems to be something everyone is very excited about, which makes our job a lot easier.”

Foley said the park would provide an opportunity for socialization and exercise not currently available to some people and canines in town.

“Having visited the Agawam Dog Park, we’ve made friends and the dogs have made friends. A dog park builds relationships between citizens in the town,” she said. “For those who don’t have a fenced in backyard or don’t have a yard at all, it’s a big benefit for the dogs.”

Fiala added the dog park would fit naturally within the confines of Mittineague Park.

“There have been some really big improvements at Mittineague Park overall through the PARC (Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities) grant and all the great work that Parks and Recreation does,” she said. “It adds something that your whole family, including your four-legged friend can go to the park and use the park. It adds something more to the character of West Springfield as well.”

For more information, visit the Facebook page or their website, Monetary contributions can also be sent to the West Springfield Park and Recreation Department, RE: Dog Park, 26 Central St., Suite 19, West Springfield, MA 01089. Donations should be made out to the West Springfield Friends of Parks and Recreation (FOPAR).

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