When residents (and their dogs) showed up to commemorate the grand opening of the Rotary Club of New Tampa Dog Park on May 2, they admired the new facility located at 17302 Commerce Park Blvd.
But they might not have known how much time and effort went into it.
“We actually started on this two years ago,” said Joyce Gunter, the Rotary Club of New Tampa’s committee chairwoman for the dog park. “It took a long time, and we’re so excited that it’s finally open.”
It took $25,000 and a couple of years of planning and coordination with the City of Tampa to bring the dog park to fruition.
The Rotary Club of New Tampa approached the city looking to start a public/private partnership on a project that would benefit the community. The city suggested the dog park, which was planned but not fully funded. If the rotary club could match their funds, the city explained, the project might get completed.
So the group set to work, obtaining sponsors to help raise the money. They also sold space at the park itself, one little block at a time. Engraved bricks in two different sizes have already been placed to outline concrete at the park. The Rotary Club of New Tampa sold more than 300 bricks at a cost of between $50 and $100.
That kind of positive response not only reinforced the idea that residents wanted a dog park in the area — there isn’t one for at least 13 miles — but showed the community’s willingness to step up and financially support the cause.
“It confirms my thought that there are a lot of great people in this community, and all you have to do is ask and talk about things you can do, and people are willing to help and join in,” Gunter said.
Now that the park is finished and open for guests, people in the community can enjoy its amenities. At just under an acre, they had room for benches and picnic tables, stations containing cleanup bags, and a water fountain with special accommodation for four-legged visitors. There’s also a large special section specifically for smaller dogs.
Shade was a big part of the design.
Some dog parks, Gunter explained, have very little shade, which can be uncomfortable when it’s hot outside.
The Rotary Club of New Tampa Dog Park has plenty of trees which provide an abundance of shade, which makes for a more pleasant visit.
After just a few days, they’ve already received some feedback as to potential improvements.
For instance, mud puddles can be a big attraction to dogs, but they aren’t welcome with owners. So, a dog-washing station to help everyone come home clean is one possible improvement.
In addition to plenty of canine representation at the opening, two-legged dignitaries were there as well. Lisa Pontilione from the Tampa City Council, state representative Shawn Harrison and Mayor Bob Buckhorn all came out for the event, alongside brick purchasers, Rotarians and those who were eager to use the facilities.
One guest was not able to be there, unfortunately.
Gunter’s labrador mix, Linkin, passed away before the park opened.
He would have loved it, Gunter said. She plans to frequent the park with another pet at some point in the future.
Until then, she’s happy to see others use the park and appreciate the hard work and time put in by the Rotary Club of New Tampa.
“It’s so nice to drive by there and see a lot of people utilizing the park, and seeing the dogs having a great time,” she said.
The dog park is open every day from sunrise to sunset.
Published May 13, 2015