Dog Park Opens! Read Dog Park Committee Chairman Ryan Schwertfeger's Speech (as prepared for delivery)
After more than 12 years of delays, fundraising, seeking approvals, and construction, Oakland's first dog park is almost ready to open! There are three key things to be aware of as the dog park is less than a month away from opening:
The Dog Park Fundraising Subcommittee, which falls underneath the Borough of Oakland's Great Oak Park Committee, is announcing three fundraisers which will take place in December 2020 through February 2021.
“While we have enough funds at this time to finish constructing the dog park, we have trimmed down the budget in order to ensure we have at least a functioning dog park open and ready for the public to enjoy in the Spring of 2021 after what will be 12 years of prayer, patience, and perseverance,” said Dog Park Subcommittee Chairman Ryan Schwertfeger. “Raising additional funds will provide for additional plants, dog park play obstacles, and benches on the dog park site to make the experience more enjoyable for all.”
To raise the additional funds needed, a Restaurant Night has been agreed to with the well-known and well-liked Oakland eatery, the Oakland Diner. For those dining in and taking out (no deliveries) on Monday, December 21, 2020, 20% of the sales from that day will go towards the dog park efforts. The subcommittee encourages everyone to participate in this fundraiser as it not only benefits the dog park, but it supports local restaurants which is so important during this COVID-19 pandemic.
The subcommittee is also working on launching an online apparel sale where supporters can buy various items with the dog park logo and Oakland dog park branding. The online store and the printing of the items will be done by an Oakland resident who runs the company Mac’s Custom Apparel. The profits from the sale, which will take place online at a time to be announced in the near future, also will go towards the dog park efforts.
Wyckoff chocolate store Chocolate Etc. is also sponsoring a Dog Park Day on Saturday, February 6, 2021. Those that make a purchase at their store and mention the Oakland Dog Park at checkout will receive 10% off your purchase and the dog park will receive 10% of the sales at the store that day. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, getting something for a special someone can benefit a FLOW area business, the dog park, and make for a yummy Valentine’s Day gift.
The Dog Park Subcommittee is also looking to hold a silent auction in early 2021 on their Facebook page as they want to auction off remaining items from previous silent auctions and tricky tray events that did not sell. Supporters are asked to keep watch on the Dog Park’s social media pages for more information.
“We look forward to teaming up with local businesses during this tough time as we hope it's a win/win for everyone,” said Dog Park Subcommittee Event Coordinator Josephine Kukla. “We're also looking for volunteers to help with planting plants in the spring and possibly look at holding one more large fundraiser in 2021 - COVID permitting.”
The Dog Park is planning on opening to the public on or close to Mother's Day 2021.
It took 11 years and 2 months, but the dog park I’ve long proposed for Oakland has finally been approved by the Oakland Borough Council! A voice vote of approval was given on May 13th and a formal written resolution is on the council’s agenda for May 27th.
Since we started fundraising in 2016, We’ve raised over $37,000 in cash donations and approximately $48,000 in pledged or donated labor and materials. As with everything in Great Oak Park, it is an amazing accomplishment to say that none of the park’s development has required the Oakland taxpayer to spend a dime.
Over the coming months, I will of course keep you abreast of site developments and progress. Some progress may seem a bit slow, but keep in mind that some the labor and materials are being donated and contractors and donations will come in and be done when possible. I think it is very safe to say at this point that the dog park should be done before the end of the year, but an exact date to say it will be done or when it would open to the public obviously depends on when the Great Oak Park Committee will have completed the entry driveway and parking lot repaving and what the limitations are on public gatherings in the midst of this COVID-19 epidemic.
At this current time, the dog park committee is officially wrapping up the majority of our fundraising as we have enough funds to proceed with construction. If additional funds remain in our account at the end of construction, we will use it to purchase benches, amenities, additional plants, etc. for the dog park. To that end, we also plan to keep our donation boxes out in public until the dog park is complete so that those donated funds can also be spent towards park improvements. It is not confirmed, but it is also possible that one last fundraising event will be held at the end of the year or in early 2021 to purchase additional dog park amenities.
We are also encouraging any dog park supporters who have considered donating but have not done so at this point, and to those who wanted to donate more but was waiting for council approval before donating, to please donate as soon as possible. We will be transferring our funds from the Sports Association of Oakland (the 501c3 organization that has graciously acted as our bank for fundraising efforts) to the Borough at a time in the very near future and we would like to ensure that as much of our funds as possible are transferred over in one shot instead of receiving last minute donations in a slow drip process. To donate, go to the dog park website at www.dogpark4oaklandnj.org/donate and follow the instructions to properly mail in a check.
I thank everyone for their support and I’m living proof that with prayer, patience, and perseverance, anything is possible!
(c) 2021 Dog Park for Oakland, NJ
Founder, project leader and Oakland dog park advocate since March 2009. Now a college graduate wanting to complete his 8th grade project from Valley Middle School for the humans and dogs of his community.