Watson Upper Valley Dog Park
The idea for a dog park began with a small group of dog owners in January of 2003. It was created out of love for our dogs and a dream of providing a place for people of like interests to socialize and exercise their dogs. It didn't take long before the group was gathering support from people all over the Upper Valley. Our group eventually became the Upper Valley Dog Park Supporters (UVDPS) and presently includes more than 330 dog-owning households.
We quickly became aware of the large number of dog parks around the country (over 2000 and growing steadily) and their recognition as valuable "perks" for communities. We have used the experiences of the developers and users of those parks to help us plan and design Watson Dog Park.
Our first step was to find centrally located space for such a park in the Upper Valley. After much hard work and perseverance, we got approval from the town of Hartford, VT to construct a dog park in an unused section of an existing park in August of 2005. The Town will provide land and liability insurance (dog parks are already covered under the town's existing insurance, so there is no extra cost to the Town) and we will provide the funding for construction and annual maintenance. The dog park is located in Watson Park on Route 14 west in Hartford. The fenced, off-leash area will be about 1 1/2 acres and will have typical park amenities such as benches, tables, double-gated entry, waste disposal systems and bags, signage, kiosk for education and information, donation lock box and a commemorative brick patio.
With fund raising being the next important step, we initiated activities including grants, business and individual donations, fund-raisers such as: merchandise and raffle events, bonus card program and a silent auction. The amount of community support has placed us in a very favorable position which allowed us to start the park in spring of 2007.
In May, Phase I, the site preparation and the parking lot expansion began.
Phase II included the fencing (which our volunteers installed in June/July) and the amenities. We were fully funded for Phase I and partially funded for Phase II. Funding for the fencing was raised but we needed more funds to complete the amenities in order to open the park.
We planted new grass in June and treated the unfavorable weeds. The rest was up to Mother Nature as to whether the grass would be strong and hearty enough by late September to open the park. Unfortunately, it wasn't, so we set our sites for spring of 2008. In the spring we put the finishing touches in place: needed ground work, repairs, landscaping and installation of the essential amenities.
On June 7th, 2008, at 10:00 am we gathered together with about 40 people and their canines. After a short ceremony in which we cut the "leash," the park was finally open. People said how beautiful the park was but when the dogs came in, the park came alive!
We are very grateful to the Town of Hartford,
Board of Selectmen, Parks & Recreation Department,
many individuals, businesses, and grants for their
generosity, support, and belief in this community
project. We look forward to having you come with
your dog(s) and enjoy this wonderful park.
UVDPS would like to thank all of our sponsors
who helped build and maintain the dog park.