Dogs and their human companions have been enjoying Statesboro’s Downtown Dog Park for some time, but an opening ceremony is slated for 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, or DSDA, the Blue Mile Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Humane Society, the city and volunteers who helped bring the dog park to this level of fruition will cut a ribbon. They’re also inviting people and their dogs who haven’t discovered the park yet to have a look. A few vendors are expected.
“It’s already been kind of unofficially opened and there are people already there, but we wanted to really make one big splash and let people know, ‘Hey, bring your dogs down, come downtown, and while you’re at the Farmers’ Market you can go down to the park,’” said DSDA Executive Director Allen Muldrew.
Situated north-south beside the Willie McTell Trail, the 1.8-acre park is between east-west streets Cherry and Grady with a graded and graveled parking lot at Cherry Street. The dog park’s access point, on the trail, is also directly behind the Statesboro-Bulloch County Library’s back parking lot.
Two parks in one
Look left and right from there, and the park is like two dog parks in stereo.
“The good thing is it’s a dual park,” Muldrew said. “You’ve got a larger-dog park and small-dog park. So if you’ve got a little-bitty dog you go to the left, if you’ve got a bigger dog, you go to the right.”
The Blue Mile Foundation provided the new black-coated, relatively low chain-link surrounding fence. A multi-gated receiving area allows one gate to remain closed in front of dogs until the previous gate is closed behind them, preventing headlong rushes in and out.
The larger-dog side and the smaller-dog side each have a tunnel and walk-over feature for dogs. Both sides have water fountains for canines and a pair of bench swings for their humans. Waste receptacles are also provided.
Although already in use, the park is not fully furnished yet. But community involvement has brought it thus far and is following through, Muldrew said.
Youth Leadership Bulloch, a program of the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce, helped raise money for additions to the park. At Statesboro High a construction class, taught by Matthew White, is building two pavilions to provide some shade and shelter. Final assembly will be done at the park, possibly by year-end, Muldrew said.
The city and the DSDA obtained a discounted year-to-year lease from the railroad company Norfolk Southern for the site. Then the DSDA’s dog park committee coordinated the efforts of the other organizations who helped equip the park.
In fact, the committee plans to continue a long-term fundraising effort, selling brick dedications honoring or memorializing pets, with the proceeds designated for enhancements to the park. The bricks are installed in the walk between the front gates.
“We order them through a place called That’s My Brick, and then we get a pretty good amount of the money back,” said committee member Kania Greer. “It’s $100 a brick, and the majority of that goes directly to the dog park.”
Besides the pavilions, planned additions include some agility equipment and other items “at an ongoing pace to make that dog park really nice,” said Greer, who is also an active Humane Society of Statesboro and Bulloch County member.
The committee would like to find some corporate sponsors and add a splash pad as a cooling feature for dogs in the summer, Greer added.
A dog park beautification fund is also planned to allow supporters to purchase additional trees for the park, she said. The city’s Tree Board and Beautification Commission have provided a number of trees in and around the park, Muldrew had noted.
From the DSDA’s perspective, the park adds another service to the community and is particularly convenient for downtown residents, Muldrew said.
“It’s been greatly used, and I have met more people just taking my dog out there,” said Greer. “You know, it’s for the dogs, but it’s the people who use it.”