2017-09-13 / Editorial

Unleash vision for dog park at Sept. 24 expo

People love their pets. This year alone, Americans are expected to spend an estimated $63 billion in the pet care market, so we have little doubt a proposed dog park at Lapeer’s Rotary Park would become a regional destination if the money is found to build it.

Like all good things, it starts with a vision. We commend Lapeer Parks and Recreation Dept. Director Rodney Church, the Lapeer City Commission, a fundraising committee and dog lovers for the initiative to develop a dark park in the community.

People from Lapeer County routinely drive to Davison, Lake Orion, Shelby Township and Utica to enjoy some quality time with their dog in a safe environment. We could have one much closer to home.

A dog park is an area for dogs to exercise and play off-leash in a fenced controlled environment under the supervision of their owners. The park would be a unique addition to the city park system and historic downtown. As proposed, this grass-roots endeavor will be a community funded project with the city performing in-kind services and lead the design and construction of the park.

The City of Lapeer, however, doesn’t have the estimated $200,000 to $250,000 it will likely take to construct a dog park. Toward that end to develop a free public dog park, proponents have organized the 2017 Lapeer Dog Park Expo to be held from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24 at Rotary Park.

For a $5 donation to the park’s construction, guests to the dog-friendly event will enjoy a barbecue cookout, a dog item raffle and a pet item rummage sale as well as vendors that will offer services to include nail trimming, grooming, dog boarding and more.

The Dog Park Expo is an event organized by the Dog Park Fundraising Committee — a group of city officials and members of the public that have been meeting every two weeks since plans were introduced in June.

There are no illusions by the committee that the dog park will materialize overnight. There’s a long road ahead to raise the necessary money to make the vision a reality. The Dog Park Expo will allow the public an opportunity to learn more about the proposed park to be located on East Nepessing Street as well as mingle with other dog owners equally passionate about their animals.

The Dog Park Expo is just the first step.

While preliminary sketches are available and some fundraising has been held, following the Dog Park Expo the committee will make plans to meet with local service groups and explore grant opportunities through local foundations or other sources.

All money raised at the Dog Park Expo will go exclusively to a dog park fund and cannot be used for any other City of Lapeer activity. The group is also pursuing 501(c)3 nonprofit designation to make future fundraising easier.

Aside of any donations should visitors choose to make one, the Sept. 24 Dog Park Expo is completely free — an event Church hopes will become an annual event to sustain interest in the proposed park and allow area families to bring their dog and enjoy time at the future site of the development.

A dog park in Lapeer is exactly the sort of outsidethe box thinking to create additional destinations and activities to further enhance the quality of life in Lapeer County. It starts with a can-do attitude on the part of a small, yet dedicated core group of supporters and city officials that has the potential to become an enormous success with greater involvement and buyin on the part of the general public.

Anything is possible with enough grit and determination by a community to see through a project it deems important to the long-term health and vitality to its people, and pets.

For more information, or to become a vendor at the Dog Park Expo give Church a call at 810-664-4431 or go online to www.cityoflapeerdogpark.com.

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