By Steven Fletcher Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — While work on the Gloucester Dog Park has ground along throughout the summer, organizers say they need one more fund-raising push to finish the job.
And that effort is now underway — along with a plan to name the park’s gateway in honor of longtime animal rights activist and City Council president Jackie Hardy.
City Councilor Bruce Tobey and the Gloucester Fishermen’s Athletic Association’s fund-raising chief Dick Wilson are leading that effort.
Tobey, meanwhile, also said he was looking for a way to recognize the work that Hardy did, both on getting Cape Ann Animal Aid’s new shelter built in West Gloucester and supporting the dog park.
Hardy, he said, cared a lot about those projects, and about the welfare of Cape Ann pets.
“She has this devotion that people don’t see,” Tobey said.
Tobey said he and Wilson are working to raise $25,000 for the shaded walkway that will serve as an entry point. Their effort, he said, will help finish the park as well. The committee, he said, supports naming the entryway after Hardy.
“It’s as much about Jackie as it is about the park,” Tobey said.
Hardy said the decision left her speechless.
“I’m overwhelmed, extremely grateful, and for one of the first times, speechless,” Hardy said.
Hardy served on the board of directors at Cape Ann Animal Aid and helped bring the new shelter in West Gloucester to fruition. She said the dog park was a natural fit to fight for. She said she likes to be a member of the community rather than leading the charge for a project like that.
Construction at the park kicked into high gear in early summer, said Nikki Bach, a general contractor who sits on the dog park committee. Bach owns Bach builders and worked with local contractors to see the project through.
The last work they actually carried out at the park, however, was to put in several trees about two months ago.
Gloucester’s Dog Park fills a roughly two acre section of Stage Fort Park across the main roadway from the visitors center. Two small, gray sided, sheds on a paved patio mark the park’s entrance. The park itself is paved with gravel that winds between trees and islands of grass.
Bach said the park has a few pieces top finish before it can open. She said the committee would like to open the park by the spring of 2013. But, before that happens, the facility needs a fence, entryway, a water fountain, benches and some agility equipment for the dogs.
“If we can get the fence in this fall and do all the ‘icing’ stuff in the spring, we’ll open,” Bach said.
To do all that, said Dog Park Committee Chairwoman Louise Grindrod, the committee is working to raise $75,000, including $25,000 for the entryway. The committee has raised and used about $160,000 for the park, with $100,000 of that coming in the form of a matching grant from the Boston-based Dusky Foundation.
The dog park project reached a point at which fund-raising and work began to slow down, said Wilson. Wilson said that point is a critical place in all-fund raising projects — and that’s why he agreed to step in.
“All that’s remaining there is fencing and the entryway,” he said.
The City Council approved the Dog Park at Stage Fort Park in 2011. Since then, Grindrod said, the committee has worked to build it. She said the committee hopes this push will finish the project.
“It got to the point when we could see light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.