Dog Park for Oakland Project Leader and Founder Ryan Schwertfeger has announced the members of his newly formed fundraising committee to help continue organizing and raising funds for the dog park effort.
“I am very excited to get to work with the new fundraising committee and I truly believe the committee is a cross section of people who live in and are involved in town and can bring the kind of experience needed to get the ball rolling even faster,” Schwertfeger said. “I am excited to see the passion about this project emanate from these individuals to in turn help produce what I hope will be a favorable outcome in raising the necessary funds to build a dog park in Oakland at long, long last. I look forward to having healthy discussions about what fundraising ideas and strategies could work best and then using teamwork to get those ideas to be successful.”
On the committee are Oakland residents Bill Wyckoff, Josephine Kukla, Grace Nappi, and Lisa Fomchenko. Also serving on the committee: Thomas “Chopper” Russo, an Oakland resident and real estate agent at RE/MAX Traditions in Oakland, John Fugazzie, who spearheaded the successful efforts to get a dog park at Bergen County’s Van Saun Park, and Oakland resident Charlie Delman, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Ridgewood. Local business owners Brian Kresge, manager of Pet Supplies Plus in Oakland, Gregg DePhillips, owner of J-B Pet Supplies in Oakland, and Dr. Robert Gordon from the Oakland Animal Hospital are also members.
Committee member Grace Nappi moved to Oakland just five years ago with her two children and feels that while Oakland is a great town, having a dog park would be a fantastic addition. With her fundraising experience doing tricky trays and serving on the PTO in her former town, she hopes to bring the Oakland community together and use her previous successes in raising the needed funds to make the dog park a reality. “I am looking forward to being part of this great team and getting this dog park up and running,” said Nappi.
Committee member Brian Kresge resides in neighboring Wayne, but chose to open a business in Oakland and is excited about the prospects of getting a dog park in town. “I’m very excited to be helping the committee. Oakland needs a first-rate dog park and Ryan is doing a great job of seeing it through,” said Kresge. “Our store is devoted to all the pets of Oakland and anything we can do to improve things for them we’re eager to support.”
Margot Williams, the office manager at the Oakland Animal Hospital, said the hospital is supportive of the local community and the dog park efforts. “Dr. Gordon and myself have both been here for over 40 years, and are active in the K9 community,” said Williams. “We are both happy to work toward a safe place for dogs to exercise and socialize.”
The committee plans to have their first meeting in the coming weeks. The first large scale fundraising event for the dog park will be September 15th from 6 to 10pm at the Oakland Senior Center where ice cream and desserts will be served and several items will be part of a silent auction to raise additional funds. To learn more, visit www.dogpark4oaklandnj.org.
Greetings Fellow Dog Park Supporters!
Over the last few weeks and months, I have talked extensively with numerous individuals and business owners about the dog park fundraising efforts. The good news is that real progress is being made to continually raise awareness, get donations of time and labor, raise funds, and look for and apply for grants to help us reach our fundraising goal.
However, something I believe has not yet been tapped to its full potential and I have heard a decent amount on this front from people who send me messages and comment on my posts – How can I get involved and help this cause besides giving a donation and merely spreading the word?
And so, after consulting with the Great Oak Park Committee Chairman, I am going to create a dog park committee to help me with the numerous dog park efforts I have going on, with the hope of even further expediting the fundraising and planning process. But in order to have a committee, I’ll need people to join it.
I am looking for a variety of different people from different backgrounds, work experiences, and connections to different organizations in the community. I’m looking for people from the mother with kids involved in the PTO who wants to make the town a better place, to the actively involved resident who has run fundraising events for different groups and organizations before, to the senior citizen with a dog who could help spread the word to friends at the Senior Center, to the pet centered business owner wanting to give back to the community and help their own business thrive, to the Boy Scout needing a project to work on to gain Eagle Scout status, and even to the landscaper who could make connections and offer services to make the dog park a reality.
My plan is to try and hold meetings about once a month somewhere casually – like the library, at a local restaurant, or even at Great Oak Park itself – to just chat about overall progress, see what everyone can do to help until we meet again, and have all of us come up with ideas and execute some of those ideas to advance the cause. I’m hoping to choose between 5-7 individuals from a variety of people who live and/or work in Oakland and potentially also others from nearby surrounding towns who can work with me to achieve our shared goal of building an Oakland dog park.
If you would be interested in joining such a committee, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name, address, contact information, current employment, reasons you want to join the committee, and what you feel you could bring to the table to help make a dog park a reality. Please send all information to me before August 19 so I have time to review the applications and make selections by the end of the month. While details will be announced in the coming days, I will be embarking on a “fundraising and information tour” around Oakland the week of August 14th and I hope besides raising additional funds and educating the public about my efforts, if you are interested in joining such a committee that you can come out and ask me any questions you may have.
Thank you and I hope to hear from many of you in the coming weeks!
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
Since the last update, many things have been set into motion to try and bring a dog park to Oakland. Now mainly, it is up to all of you to help make this a reality.
Since the last Facebook note in mid-2016, the dog park location has been moved slightly in the property. It was determined in mid-summer 2016 that to move the process to get a dog park along faster than it would have otherwise at the original location, the proposed location of the dog park has moved away from the corner of the Great Oak Property (closest to Shoprite by the colored Great Oak Park sign), up more into the right middle portion of the park. The new proposed location is right off of the old Muller’s Park driveway where it would turn left from the entrance path more into the park itself.
For further perspective to help you out, if I stand where the large dog park would go facing north, the proposed great lawn and band shell would be in front of me at 12 o’clock, the Pond’s cemetery would be at 1-2 o’clock, the end of the parking lot by the office building between the two Portobello’s would be at 3-4 o’clock, Rt. 202 and the proposed skate park would be between 6 and 8 o’clock, and the rest of the park would be between 9 and 11 o’clock.
Again, I was fortunate to have the assistance of landscaper Jordan Glaser of Glaser Landscapes to create a simple diagram showing the proposed layout of the dog park at its new location. While a more detailed drawing may be required later on, this current diagram will suffice for what the Park Committee wants at this present time. So thanks again to Jordan for his assistance!
I also had received a very basic approval from the Mayor and Council that I was allowed to proceed with planning and start fundraising. However, the Mayor and Council still need to formally approve a dog park, as well as other Phase II projects, before actual work can begin. The Borough wants to see that enough funds have been raised and a plan and design is in place before giving any formal approvals. It was then over the fall 2016 months that I started to draft and have the necessary people review a proposed fundraising letter to officially kick-start the dog park campaign. In December, I received the approvals I needed from Park Committee, Oakland Borough, and SAO individuals and had the funds ready to go to do a targeted mailing of businesses, grant giving groups, animal organizations, and local individuals to raise awareness and ask for funds to go towards this effort. A thanks to Mr. Gregg Miller at the Wyckoff Sir Speedy for his assistance and support to help get the mailing out as soon as possible before the year’s end while also making sure money being spent on the mailings would not be wasted.
Currently, a total of about $12,000 has been raised since the very end of December for the dog park efforts. When not looking for places of employment this summer (as I just graduated college), I plan to follow up these letters with visits to local businesses in town to make a personal appeal for their support. In addition, I am working with the Sports Association of Oakland (SAO) and an individual who has volunteered his services for free, to help find and apply for grants that could help the efforts to get a dog park in Oakland. We have already identified one or two grants that we believe we have a decent shot at, however, I am remaining cautiously optimistic: this is year 8 in this project journey after all! I have also reached out and have met with a few local businesses and individuals who may want to get involved in donating their services or their applicable business involved in the dog park project. In doing so, I continue to gather information about potential actual costs overall and potentially how much it would cost us in the end if they are willing to give a discount and work with me for the betterment of our community.
Presently, the biggest area of need is two-fold: raising enough money through actual donations and grants, and two, whatever I don’t raise in straight donations, making up for that in donations of labor and materials. Essentially, if I have lots of donations coming in the form of labor and materials, less money will need to be raised; likewise if fewer donations of labor and materials come in, more grants and donations will be required to pay for the work that will need to be done.
If you or someone you know are interested in volunteering, donating, or offering a service, please let me know by emailing me at email@example.com or messaging the page. If you are also interested in hosting a fundraiser to benefit the dog park effort at your house, in an event space, etc. please let me know. Due to my time being occupied doing so many other things, I don’t have much free time to thoroughly plan and organize events or fundraisers so I am kindly asking for people to step up and take initiative on their own! However, please know that I am more than willing to assist you where I can, spread the word, and give you the information you need so a successful fundraiser for the dog park can be had.
Lastly, I have launched a new website for the dog park: www.dogpark4oaklandnj.org! Here you can find the latest news, some videos and images, a form to contact me, and the link in order to donate. Please share this with your friends and family to get the word out and I hope we can hit the next big milestone in the “fundraising bone chart” sooner than later!
Thank you all again for your interest, prayers, and support. I have heard that many of you have even written letters along with your donations and I am told those will be given to me soon by members of the SAO so I look forward to reading them.
Dog Park for Oakland, NJ Founder
In what now seems to be the yearly “Facebook note” update, here’s the bit more in-depth version of what’s been going on the last year with the overall progress to get a dog park in Oakland.
Since the last Facebook note in June 2015, the Great Oak Park officially opened the public. Dogs are allowed to be on the park property but must be leashed and must have any waste picked up and disposed of. Parking is available via a driveway entrance off of Doty Road.
Later on last summer, some initial work was done on the proposed dog park area which exposed the existing asphalt parking lot and the outer boundary of the Muller’s Park pool wall; in addition to also removing many dead, dying, and invasive brush and trees in the area. Thanks again to the volunteers who stepped up and came out to help really make the area walkable, viewable, and safer for park visitors.
In the fall and winter months of 2015 going into 2016, the Great Oak Park committee spent time preparing the steps needed for the Borough to complete the LOI which included the dog park.
In the spring though, I received the news that because of the nature of the proposed dog park site (being that it is very disturbed as is), we would be able to move forward faster than originally anticipated. In that time frame, I’ve had several conversations and meetings with members of the Great Oak Park Committee and I have worked with a good friend of mine from Glaser Landscapes who gave his time and energy in helping to create a proposed CAD drawing of what the dog park would entail and require. The Park Committee approved of my proposal and my accompanying documents in May 2016.
While I currently await a review to conclude by the Borough Engineer before I present to the Mayor & Council hopefully before summer’s end (which I hope many of you will be in attendance for in order to express your support), I have been hard at work researching grants, reaching out to organizations, while I’ve also heard from many of you who have volunteered to help take an overgrown, unused piece of space and turning into an area that both humans and dogs alike can enjoy and use.
In June, my family held a garage sale at our house with all proceeds going towards the dog park and it was a pleasure to meet many of you who heard the call and came out to support the cause. $500 total was raised and we currently plan to use that money, plus some additional funds, to go towards creating and mailing fundraising letters to local dog owners, dog related businesses and charities, different organizations, community groups, grant organizations, and of course family, friends, supporters, and connections I’ve made over the years to raise the total amount of money that will be needed to build the dog park.
We are on the cusp of finally getting the dog park we’ve all wanted and have been waiting for and I hope you check back on the page frequently to make sure you catch all the latest news and calls for action! If you or someone you know are interested in volunteering, donating, or offering a service, please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or messaging the page. I can only proceed at a certain pace right now as I need to get the council’s approval first before things can really begin to progress.
So in the short term, once council approval is given, assistance will be needed to:
But in the meanwhile, I’ve spent hours upon hours reaching out to people to get the groundwork ready so we can get to work and get things happening as soon as approval is given. If everything goes as planned, meaning approvals are given, the funds are raised, and work is done on time, POSSIBLY we could have a dog park a year from now in Oakland.
Thank you all again for your interest, your prayers, and your support. It means a lot to me and I promise to continue to work as hard as I can to get that dog park for Oakland!
Dog Park for Oakland, NJ Founder
(c) 2019 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.