It hasn’t been too long since my last update, but I’d like to address several important developments and answer several questions that have come about. So instead of a mini-essay like I normally do, here’s a question and answer type formatted post that should help answer and explain what has happened and is happening thus far.
Q: So how are the fundraising efforts going?
A: Fundraising efforts are going very well as several local organizations have recently given collectively about $2,000 and there may be another organization or two coming through shortly as well. This is on top of donations being made online, donations being mailed in, and money being given through our scattered donation boxes around Oakland. The combined “fundraised” dollars (which is actual dollars in the bank) PLUS savings that will be realized when work is done (as several businesses have committed to providing a discount for work they can do for the dog park efforts) is now at about $25,000.
Of course, more money still needs to be raised and I’m continually reaching out to a variety of businesses, individuals, and organizations to see who can help contribute towards this project. I still need to hear back from additional individuals and businesses who can potentially help us save money on expenses by donating or discounting labor or services for the dog park, and I’ve tried making a few connections with other local organizations like the Boy Scouts to see if they can help reduce costs in other ways, for example by building park benches instead of me having to buy them.
Q: So, it sounds like you are off to a good start, but how are you planning to raise the additional funds that you will need?
A: I am presently in discussions with a few individuals who have offered to help organize fundraising events. I have no news to announce about that yet, but the hope is to do something before the end of the summer. If you are interested in hosting a fundraiser yourself for the dog park efforts, please reach out to me and I can assist in getting the word out and helping to organize. Besides a larger scale fundraiser that I’m trying to do presently, any small to mid-sized fundraiser that a local or nearby resident could host or co-host with somebody else would be amazing and extremely helpful. In addition, it is likely a small scale fundraiser will occur with car magnets of the dog park logo being sold to raise money, while also serving as a good promotional tool to spread the word even more so.
Q: Have you considered applying for any grants? If you have applied to any, when will you hear back?
A: Yes, we have and in fact we just applied for one and we’ll be applying for another one shortly! Over the years, I’ve heard from several of you about a grant from a company called PetSafe. While it has been on my radar for those years, the time wasn’t right to apply because I wasn’t granted the okay yet to start mass-scale fundraising efforts. Well, since I was approved to do just that in December, grants are very much on my radar. A grant writer has volunteered his time and efforts to help write the PetSafe grant that has now been submitted and another grant we hope to work on and submit soon. The Borough formally approved me going for the PetSafe grant when they passed “17-180, Support Grant for Dog Park” on June 14, 2017, which besides letting me apply, also means the Borough accepts that if we get one of the grants PetSafe is offering in their contest (a grant for $5,000 towards park equipment or $25,000 towards a new park), it must be used for a dog park within 3 years of receiving it.
This says to me that not only the Borough is committed to the idea and wants a dog park in town, but also that if we get the grant then it will be done in 3 years or sooner. Even if we don’t get the money, as it is a competition, it does say a lot that Oakland Borough is taking this public stance supporting the dog park efforts legislatively and not just verbally. We will find out if we won a PetSafe grant in August-September. I am also continually doing research and working to prepare to apply for other grant possibilities – reaching out to individuals and entities that could be of assistance in this process.
Q: So I’m curious – you say you need $80,000-$100,000 for the dog park but a few years ago you said you needed $30,000 to $50,000. What happened? What is costing that much?
A: So, the statistics I cited at that time in 2012 were based on how much it would cost to build a dog park at that time on a flat, undisturbed piece of property. Since the dog park location has moved several times to its now present spot in Great Oak Park near the proposed band shell and great lawn, additional costs have arisen – mainly making sure we conform to Borough insurance requirements and addressing the removal of previous elements of the site. To highlight some of the higher expenses to further explain, these are some current figures I have:
Q: Lastly, when could a dog park feasibly open in Oakland at the Great Oak Park?
A: If we continue our pace of fundraising and donation of labor that we have thus far and we are able to secure a few grants as well, I think it is reasonable to say we could have the funds needed by the fall of 2018. However, getting decent sized donations from businesses, organizations, individuals and of course any potential grants awarded, would speed things along or slow things down in regard to fundraising. In addition, the Park Committee needs to also have funds raised to complete the complementary and necessary projects to open that area of the park, namely that the roadway in and out and a parking area for people wishing to use the services on that side of the park. The Borough is going to ask for a 50/50 County grant to help pay for that cost, but of course, the other half of that will still need to be raised. Once all those funds (dog park and other related) are raised, formal Borough approval to begin construction would still be needed. THEN, when we get that, it would be just a matter of time as to when work could begin and when will work finish to determine when Oakland’s first dog park can be open to the public.
Be sure to tell your friends, family, neighbors and fellow dog owners about the new website for the dog park: www.dogpark4oaklandnj.org as it has the latest news, some videos and images, a form to contact me, and the link in order to donate. A lot of support has come in through word of mouth or by people seeing news about the efforts on Facebook, on news websites, and in the Suburban News, so your help can make all the difference. And as always, thank you all again for your interest, prayers, and support. I got to read many of your letters and comments and I appreciate your kind words and your solidarity with me in working to make an Oakland dog park a long last reality.
Dog Park for Oakland, NJ Founder
(c) 2018 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.