Arriving early morning before their workday began, county officials from the parks and recreation department, social services and community development met Friday to lay fences, put together benches, agility courses and umbrella stands.
Despite the sweltering heat, officials moved with an intensity matching that of years of community requests and countless hours of planning. They spared no time getting the park ready ahead of its opening date.
With months of preparation despite a two-month delay amid the COVID-19 outbreak, several county officials’ hands on deck and a $21,000 donation from Nestle Purina Petcare Co., King William County is set to open its first dog park following community demand.
Parks and Recreation Department Head Manager Jennifer Leleux took on the project in January. After countless calls and emails, she set out to make citizens’ dreams a reality. Despite the pandemic, she pushed along and on Aug. 8, the Nestle Purina Paws in the Park Dog Park will be open to the public.
“The goal of this community dog park is to bring residents together while allowing their dogs to play,” Leleux said. “It’s for allowing your dogs to learn how to socialize.”
With two-fenced halves for both small and large dogs, the county offers more than a quarter-acre of land filled with agility equipment and toys. Additionally, there will be pools for dogs to play in and water bowls for use and bags for owners to clean up after their animals.
Picnic tables and benches line the space for folks to rest while their pets play or to enjoy lunch at the recreation park center. To beat the heat, there are umbrellas offering shade.
“The relaxed environment allows citizens the opportunity to enjoy a picnic lunch right outside the dog area or have your dog splash in the multiple pools located throughout the area,” Leleux added.
While the park will officially open on Aug. 8, the grand opening celebration is planned for a later date because of the pandemic.
Folks are advised to follow the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 guidelines including social distancing and mask-wearing while using the facility.
In order to use the park, citizens will sign in on a whiteboard located on the fence. This is to ensure only five dogs are playing at a time in order to cut back on overcrowding. Additionally, parkgoers must have their dogs up-to-date on their rabies and bordetella shots. And folks must clean up after their pets. There are stations located on each half with bags and trashcans.
Parks and Recreation employee Jamie Rooker will oversee the park, ensuring folks follow park rules. If people do not have up-to-date tags, they will be asked to leave. Additionally, Rooker will make sure dog bowls stay filled, the pools stay clean and the trash cans are emptied
While several county officials worked to help make the park a reality, Leleux said it would not have been possible without Nestle Purina.
“Without the generous donation from the Nestle Purina King William factory, this park would not be possible,” Leleux said.
According to Leleux, the company donated $21,000 for all of the construction materials, signage, benches, toys, agility courses and other needed items. With the company’s donation, no county dollars went toward the park.
Additionally, Leleux said nearly all of the materials purchased for the park were bought at local maintenance stores intentionally putting thousands back into the local economy.
“We are proud to be members of the King William community and relish our role producing products pet owners rely upon,” Nestle Purina Factory Manager Travis Gumbs stated in an email. “Our support of the new dog park furthers our efforts to bring people and pets together in King William County.”
The dog park is located at King William Recreation Park at 330 King William Park Road. There will be a parking lot located in front of the park in order for people to drive-in, park and enjoy the facility. Presently, the recreation park is open to the public.
For more information, contact the county parks and recreation department at 804-769-4981.
Emily Holter, firstname.lastname@example.org, 757-256-6657, @EmilyHolterNews.
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