By Richard Rourk
Tails should be wagging in Erwin very soon.
According to City Recorder Glenn Rosenoff, the Town of Erwin’s Bark Park is projected to open this spring.
“It’s safe to say that the dog park will be open in early spring,” Rosenoff told The Erwin Record. “We have fencing up, signs up and we are just waiting for the weather to cooperate to install benches.”
The dog park, which is located behind the Unicoi County Animal Shelter, was made possible by a grant from the Boyd Foundation in the amount of $25,000. The Boyd Foundation Dog Park Dash donated the check to the Town of Erwin during a ceremony held at Fishery Park in August 2019.
According to Boyd Foundation Dog Park Dash creators Randy and Jenny Boyd, the foundation is an effort to make Tennessee the most pet-friendly state in America.
“Ten years ago I went to one of the charity events in Arizona,” stated Randy Boyd during the presentation. “The last speaker came up and discussed the success of the charities, but stated there were locations that remain a backwater in regards to being pet-friendly. She stated that there were still places like Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, as she said this everyone that knew I was from Tennessee turned around to look at me. When we got home we checked and sure enough, we were one of the worst states for pet welfare.”
Town of Erwin Communications Specialist Jamie Rice acknowledges that the Bark Park will give dogs plenty of space to explore.
“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.”
According to Rice, 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.
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.”
According to Rosenoff, the Town of Erwin will hold a grand opening in the spring and will reach out to the Boyds to attend.