There are several ideas I have come up with in order to pay for the cost of a dog park. The ones I am about to list are those that I think would be the most logical, probable, and effective. To start off with a number as a "base", the estimate of $33,700 is what a Passaic County worker told me a new dog park could cost the county. Here's what could happen off of that for Oakland:
1. The price of fencing (the most expensive part) could be lowered by bargaining as well as offering a prime advertising space if they build the fence at a lower cost. If they do a good job, the park will impress people and they might use that fencing company for their own work. Let's say that lowers the price down a bit to about $27,000.
2. We could entice businesses to give money towards the park by offering them a plaque on an "information board" next to the dog park. This could be built for little to no cost by a Boy Scout possibly trying to get his Eagle Badge. If 40 businesses or groups are able to donate $100 each, that would be $4,000 bringing the cost down to about $23,000.
3. We could also look for grants or "business assistance". Many larger businesses, such as WalMart, have been known to give money to local groups and organizations for a good community project. Reading several forums and pages, I've found that big stores, like WalMart have helped give as much as $3,000 towards projects like this. Other foundations and groups such as the Petco Foundation and Nutro Dog Food's Room to Run Project are some of a few that can provide grants and funding for a dog park. While there are a few to look at, one is never sure if their idea will be accepted and money will be granted. I also do not know if a dog park could be eligible for Green Acres or county funding as this could help lower the cost some more. These are all ideas, but for this scenario I am building, I'm not going to adjust the cost as all of these are not certain.
4. One big part of course is local fundraising.Canisters in stores and online donations are definitely part of a good plan. Through generous individuals as well as pocket change, I estimate that about $3,000 can be raised for the park over some months which could bring the cost down to $20,000.
5. Other items and features, such as benches, plants, and toys can be donated by citizens, certain local organizations, and local businesses. As that factor is most likely part of the original estimate, that could take off another $500-1,000.
6. The last part of the equation would be town dog tags. Already, Oakland residents must pay in order for their cat or dog to be licensed in the town. By adding an additional few dollars to the registration fee for dog owners, those who would be using the dog park are essentially paying for it's maintenance and construction. In order to make it fair, people coming from other towns would also need to buy a dog park tag and show medical records, similar to what Pequannock's dog park does. By charging them a few dollars a year as well, they can help pay for the dog park. To enforce the "out-of-towners" who might try and get away with not paying the fee, random tag checks could be done by volunteers and/or policemen. Those caught could pay an additional fine for not paying the registration fee.
I do not know exactly how many dogs there are in the town of Oakland but if I take a "guesstimate", if there were 500 dogs in Oakland and each dog was "charged" an extra $4...that would be $2,000 per year that could go towards the park construction and maintenance.
However, after all of this, it is very unlikely that just through these 6 ideas alone that the park could be done and paid for right away. Certain ideas like the dog tags could help repay the town for its immediate investment to get the project started and it will also help the Borough with maintaining the property. All in all, the lower we can get that "chip-in" cost to be, the more likely the town could be willing to help and the sooner a dog park could be built.
If you have any other ideas, please feel free to post them here or email them to Scooby and I at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2020 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.