In the near future, Coventry dog owners will no longer have to travel out of town to allow their dogs to socialize with other local canines in a public setting.
Following the August 20 Town Council meeting at which residents Lisa Finneran and Kathleen Levett approached the Council during public comment about their desire to have a dog park in Coventry, town officials agreed to meet with them to discuss the possibility.
Finneran and Levett came prepared with answers to numerous questions that might be asked of them when they met with Town Manager Tom Hoover, Town Council President Gary Cote, Vice President Kerry McGee and Parks and Recreation Director Guy Lefebvre last week. After much discussion, the officials agreed to set aside a section of town land for the creation of the park with the agreement that the project will not be funded or maintained by the town.
"We decided that if they could have the wherewithal to organize and maintain it, we would find them a piece of land," said Hoover. "We're narrowing down a couple of locations now and we hope to choose a suitable one by the end of the month."
Finneran explained that she has done much research on the subject and has also received advice from the organizer of South Kingstown's dog park. She has requested an acre to an acre and a half of land from the town, which would be fenced in and maintained by members of the Coventry Dog Park Committee that is currently being formed.
Some ideas for the park to ensure safety, cleanliness and security are key-card accessibility so that only dog owners who have shown proof of pet vaccinations can enter, having a volunteer group take shifts picking up dog droppings, selling advertising to local companies which would be tastefully displayed around the park to fund maintenance and landscaping and the possible installation of a walking path around the park for dogs and their owners to use if off-leash playtime is not for them.
Aside from advertising, there will be other fund-raising opportunities put into place, including the sale of personalized walkway bricks, similar to what the Coventry Girls' Softball League is selling to fund field improvements.
"That is just the very beginning part of our planning, but we have some fantastic ideas," said Finneran. "We're one of the only Rhode Island towns left without a dog park and this will be a great thing for residents and their dogs."
Councilman Carl Mattson has offered to help Finneran start a non-profit organization and set up the dog park's website where residents can find information about the park, volunteer opportunities and how to donate, as well as contact the committee.
At a future meeting, the Town Council will present a proclamation supporting and approving the dog park plans which Finneran hopes will solidify the legitimacy of the endeavor.
In the coming weeks, Finneran will continue to form the dog park committee and is open to suggestions for park features. She can be reached at Lfinneran12@gmail.com. Please vote in the poll below about which aspect of a dog park is the most important to you and your pooch or leave a comment with any other ideas or suggestions that you may have.