Happy almost summer everyone! As the temperature heats up, more outdoor activities are going to be scheduled with our families and in our communities. One of these events is occurring this Sunday at 10am. This is the opening of the Great Oak Park in Oakland, NJ!
There will be a nice ceremony that will take place at the approximately 250 year old white oak tree and afterwards, attendees are welcome to explore the park property and have a bite to eat courtesy of the Oakland Public Events Committee.
With all of the excitement and hustle and bustle surrounding the park’s opening, there are just a few things I want to make sure is clear and understood by all of you, the fellow fervent supporters also wanting to see a dog park in Oakland:
1. There is no dog park currently in Great Oak Park.
A dog park is part of the plan for the Great Oak Park but no approvals have been given from the town or the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). By the end of this year, the Park Committee hopes to hear official word whether a dog park as well as many of the other proposed projects, will be approved. If the permits are given, then work will start on fundraising, working with the town, etc. and trust me: you’ll know from me when that happens. In case permits are not given, I am currently exploring other possible alternatives so that progress and momentum do not come to a full stop.
2. At least for now, dogs are not allowed in Great Oak Park
Technically, the Borough’s ordinance governing all parks forbids dogs on and in town parks and that also applies for Great Oak Park. The Borough is working with the Great Oak Park Committee to change and update these rules but until you hear otherwise, no dogs please in the park.
3. WHEN dogs are likely allowed in the near future…
Dogs will be required to remain on leash throughout the entire park just like any other county or state parks that allow dogs. Also, as per local and state law, dog owners are required to pick up after their dogs in the event they “go”. Garbage cans will be scattered throughout the park so there should be no excuse to not pick up or to easily dispose of your dog’s waste. Please also know that this is also an important test: if dog owners are not picking up after their dogs, that may lead to a revoking of the change allowing dogs in the park and will stop any potential thought of allowing dogs to occupy any other Oakland parks in the future.
I hope to see you at the park opening on Sunday and Mike Guadagnino, the Great Oak Park Committee chairman, any of the Park Committee members or myself would be happy to help try and answer any questions you may have about the park as a whole or any dog related aspects of the park,including of course, the plan to build a dog park, so don’t be afraid to find us and ask questions and share your thoughts and comments. You can also email Mike at MikeGuad1@gmail.com if you are unable to attend the opening ceremony.
Dog Park for Oakland, NJ Founder
Fellow Dog Park Advocates and Supporters,
I first want to say that I am very excited and it gives me such joy to see that almost 500 people have liked this page. From family, friends, Oaklanders, former Oaklanders, and even people in towns surrounding Oakland, it is just amazing to see how so many people are all supportive of this effort that has taken place over the last 5 ½ years. It’s also amazing to think how much time flies in that just two years ago today, my mom passed away; and as my inspiration to start this project back in the 8th grade, her name shall continue to be attached to this project as seen in the logo.
As for the latest news, I will say that patience is still required from all of us as the park progress continues to move forward. From my posts,and posts from the Park Committee Chairman Mike Guadagnino, I’m sure you’ve read and seen that progress is occurring at a much faster and noticeable pace. The work the committee and volunteers are undertaking is nothing short of amazing. Existing asphalt is being exposed, boy scouts are creating walking trails, and companies have stepped forward at no cost to save trees and to trim trees on the property.
Please know that I hear those of you who are asking why the dog park is taking so long, and while I feel your frustration, I must remind you that there is a process and rules that need to be followed, and like the saying, good things take time. Right now, the park committee must accurately find out what is on the property in order to have accurate information when they apply for permits from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to do anything substantial (dog park, skate park, band shell, etc). So certain work must be done first to have accurate information that can then be sent for permits.This uncovering process is still underway but after that, the permitting process will take a few more months to complete. But hopefully in the fall or early winter, we’ll have some idea what’s going to happen at Great Oak Park. However, in the event that a dog park is ruled to not be feasible by the DEP, I have been proactive and have started to look for other possible locations so as to not hinder the momentum we’ve gained.
So let me be completely clear: I continue to make the Great Oak Park property my #1 focus and it is where I really think a dog park belongs. The Park Committee has been doing a spectacular job and they should be lauded and supported by the entire community. The Oakland Mayor and Council have also been very supportive and I am extremely thankful for that. But nothing can move forward until cleanup work is done on the property that will enable the committee to request permits for projects like the dog park to be completed. I ask for your support and your prayers as I continue this quest. Please know that while I may not have a lot of things to say over the next few months that I am constantly doing work to make this dog park a reality. Silence on my end does not mean inaction.
Thanks to all of you again!
When I first started my dog park project in 2008, Teaneck was one of the first dog parks I contacted as they were beginning to have the discussion as to whether a dog park in their town could be feasible or not.
Fairly recently, their dog park opened and I saw an article on northjersey.com about it:
What I found interesting from the article was that:
1) The dog park only cost them about $20,000, which is less than what I have estimated, although the situation and the overall plan will most likely cost more
2) A company donated several days of time and labor to help build the park
3) The dog park was built on an area where an above-ground pool once stood.
While that does not fall exactly under the same circumstances as this project, I did find that ironic, given that one of the concerns for the dog park project, and the proposed park as a whole, was what was going to happen given the remains of history of Pleasureland and Muller's Park.
4) Teaneck's dog park rules state several concepts and ideas that I have floated for our park including:
As it is fairly likely that the final plan for the park as a whole will be presented at the next council meeting, I'd like to hear your ideas, thoughts, experiences, etc. about what rules should be put in place for a dog park in Oakland. The Borough Council and the Board of Health will most likely have the final say, but I'd like to hear from all of you since you are the ones most likely to use the park. We still have several months ahead of us, but I'm hoping for the town's stamp of approval before I leave for college...check back often though to see the latest.
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 email@example.com.
(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.