MARSHALL - It's taken a lot of planning and work from the Marshall community, but a new dog exercise area in Marshall is now ready to be unleashed.
The grand opening of the Marshall Area Dog Run will be from 5-7 p.m. today, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. The celebrations have been a long time in the making, said Cam Bailey, recreation coordinator for Marshall Community Services.
A volunteer committee that helped to create the dog run was formed in 2009, but the idea goes back further, to about 2006.
Photo by Deb Gau
Dogs like Romeo, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, will be treated to fresh water at the new dog run in Marshall.
Organizers "kind of put a little feeler out," Bailey said, and found a lot of people and businesses in the Marshall community were willing to support the idea, by helping to provide funding or parts of the run like paths, landscaping and racks to hold leashes.
"We were very fortunate to have several generous companies donate funds to help with development," said dog run committee member Sheila Drum. The city of Marshall helped as well - the land for the dog run was fenced off and seeded with grass at the same time as a nearby city retention pond project.
"It really was a joint effort," said committee member Tony Doom. "And it was something that the community and residents needed."
The dog run, located off of A Street in Marshall, features two fenced-in grassy areas where dogs can be let off the leash. One enclosure is for smaller dogs weighing 25 pounds or less, while the other is open to all dogs. Benches, a watering station and dispensers for waste bags are all part of the dog run, too.
Doom said committee members tried to take some of their cues from other communities that have dog parks or exercise areas.
"We learned a lot from just visiting other parks," he said.
Besides being a place for pets to exercise and play, Doom said, the dog run is a good deal for people. Travelers can find a spot to let their dogs run, and dog owners can meet and socialize.
"It's going to be a good social networking location," Doom said.
Bailey added the dog run is also part of a corridor formed by the city bike trail system, connecting to amenities like the Marshall-Lyon County Library, the Marshall Area YMCA and Memorial Park.
Today's grand opening includes a free hot dog supper provided by Marshall Hy-Vee, the Schwan Food Co. and Viking Coca-Cola. There will also be local dog care vendors, a raffle and door prizes and free items for both people and dogs.
While they hoped people would enjoy the dog run and opening celebrations, the run is not a finished project. Free will donations are being accepted to help with its upkeep and for future development. Bailey and Doom said supporters hope to be able to add features like more trees or benches at the dog run.
In case of rain, the grand opening festivities will be at the Marshall Area YMCA. Organizers cautioned that while pets are welcome at the dog run, they aren't allowed at the Y.