By Richard Rourk
The Town of Erwin is moving ever closer to opening a dog park along the Linear Trail.
According to Town of Erwin Communications Specialist Jamie Rice, crews are working on installing fences, but have hit a brief snag.
“We actually broke an auger bit on some rock so it has slowed production down,” Rice said. “Once the fencing is up and the concrete is laid for benches we hope to hold a ribbon cutting.”
Rice said there is no time frame confirmed for the project to be completed, but she is hopeful that it will still be completed in the next few months.
“Our community can expect 1.5 acres of a naturalized open space, scattered with old growth trees to give shade and small hills and tunnels for visual interest and variation,” Rice said. “This area used to be essentially a wasteland, on the backside of our brush dump, and years of construction debris and rocks were removed to create a beautiful green space.”
Rice acknowledged that unlike some dog parks, this one would be free to use.
“It will be free and open to the public during daylight hours,” Rice said.
There will be a spot for large dogs to play and a separate place for smaller dogs to roam.
“The space will be divided into two separate areas – one for large dogs over 30 pounds, and one for small dogs under 30 pounds,” Rice said. “There will be park benches donated by the Unicoi County Health Department, pet waste stations and a manual water hydrant.”
All dogs that use the park should have up-to-date shots, but according to Rice, this is a use at your own risk park.
According to Rice, the Town of Erwin will be taking on the responsibility of upkeep.
“We are hoping to establish a passionate ‘Friends of the Bark Park’ group to help with general oversight and possible fundraisers for future needs,” Rice said. “There are many amenities that could be added to the park at a later date, such as agility courses, jumps and tables among others.”
The park will be located close to the Kiwanis Children’s Playground.
“Parking will be at the Kiwanis Children’s Playground and the dog park is located a few hundred yards north along Linear Trail,” Rice said.
According to Rice, the design will be similar to Hugh Rogers Wag Park located in Whitefish, Montana.
The Town of Erwin is thankful for all of the support they have received in making the park a reality.
“The Unicoi County Health Department donated two benches, our parks and rec and fire departments have both been instrumental creating this space and keeping the grass watered during this dry summer,” Rice said. “We are especially thankful for the Randy Boyd Foundation for sponsoring the Dog Park Dash.”
The dog park is being built with the $25,000 grant that Erwin received from the Boyd Foundation Dog Park Dash in August 2018. Randy and Jenny Boyd started the Boyd Foundation Dog Park Dash to make Tennessee the most pet-friendly state in the country.
According to Rice, the Town of Erwin plans to stay within the budget of the $25,000 grant.