We have made huge strides thanks to all of your generous donations! While we are in the process of using the money raised so far to open the park, we are going to keep collecting to be able to add all the extras that will make this park awesome. We plan to add a shelter in the spring and would also like to fence off a small dog area within the park.
Our names are Jessica Kooistra (Kent County Animal Control Officer) and Ryan TerBush, and we have been working to develop a new dog park here in Grand Rapids. Currently, there are an estimated 150,000 dogs within Kent County's borders. However, there are only five established dog parks within those same borders, and only one of those (Hillcrest Dog Park - located on the NE side of the city) is located in the city limits of Grand Rapids. Just by evaluating these statistics, Grand Rapids is in need of another dog park, and we strongly believe we have the perfect location in mind.
The Proposed Site
The proposed site for this new dog park is located on the northwest side of the city. It is off of Covell Avenue, but very near the high traffic intersection of Lake Michigan Dr. and Covell Avenue. This site is ideal for numerous reasons:
1. It is already fenced in 2. There is already a paved parking lot 3. It is handicap accessible 4. There is already a paved ramp in place for trash removal and the delivery of woodchips
The City's Support
In addition, the water department owns the land and has given James Hurt (Grand Rapids Director of Parks Public Services) permission to use the premises for a dog park. James and the rest of the City Park's Board Committee have been very supportive of this idea and have even given us assurance that the city will maintain the trash of the property, supply "doggie bags", and supply the woodchips for the park. They have also said that they would be able to reallocate benches and picnic tables from other underutilized parks within the city to this dog park.
However, to make this a functional dog park, there are a few improvements that will need to be done. We will need to install a front entrance gate as well as a concrete slab within that front entrance gate. We will also need an additional gate for the trash removal and delivery of woodchips. In order to post flyers for the Animal Shelter and the Animal Control, we will need a kiosk as well. The estimated total cost between these two gates, the concrete slab, and the kiosk will be roughly $4,000.
Our Primary Goal
The primary goal in regards to these initial donations is to make the dog park official and functional. By installing these improvements, we can do just that. Once this dog park opens and grows in popularity, we believe the community will become engaged in this park and in time, possibly provide other minor improvements to the park such as building a shelter, implementing a "small dog area", planting trees, etc. In other words, our goal is to clear a path and get the ball rolling.
Although James and the rest of the City Park's Board Committee have been tremendously supportive in this venture, the city simply does not have the funds to donate to this cause. By opening this dog park, we have the opportunity to provide for a better life for the dogs and dog owners of Grand Rapids.
We have no doubts that this dog park will flourish. We have talked to the neighbors of this proposed site, including the adjacent Retirement Living Center, Grandview Apartments, who are all overwhelmingly in support of this park. The Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation Department is in support of this park. The Kent County Animal Shelter is in support of this park. The Kent County Animal Control is in support of this park. Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is in support of this park. We also have an enthusiastic group of Facebook followers who are ready to volunteer when needed. All we need are the funds mentioned above to make this park functional.
Any donation to reach our goal of $4,000 would be greatly appreciated. Please contact either one of us if you have any questions, concerns, ideas, and/or would hopefully like to pursue this idea.