A small crowd was on hand on Wednesday, Sept. 25 for the official ribbon cutting for Austintown Bark Park. It was the summer project for park crews to put together a play area where dogs could be turned loose to romp and enjoy the park.
"We're extremely excited to open our Austintown Dog Park," said Trustee Lisa Oles. "There are a lot of dog owners in the township, including myself."
She said a vote of thanks goes out to park supervisor Todd Shaffer and his team, who put together the park over the summer months. They fenced in a large section of open ground in the northern part of the park, added a two-gate safety system, and included several pieces of dog agility equipment.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Cutting the ribbon to officially open Austintown Bark Park at Austintown Township Park were Trustee Lisa Oles and her two canine friends, Benny and Lucky; Trustee Rick Stauffer, township fiscal officer; Laura Wolfe; Trustee Jim Davis, his daughter Gabby and her friend Cooper; and park supervisor Todd Shaffer.
"We have around $14,000 into it," said Shaffer. "It came totally from park levy money."
Shaffer also mentioned a partnership that has been paying off. Melissa Simko, of Sit Means Sit Mahoning Valley, had approached the park with the idea of using Bark Park for training sessions. She agreed to offer free advice to residents with dogs when she is at the park on Thursdays and Saturdays.
"Before and after my training sessions, I am open for any questions from the public regarding their dogs," she said. "I will help them as best I can at no charge."
Simko also is helping maintain the enclosed area. She is providing disposable bags for droppings, and she makes sure there is a good supply every time she comes out.
"She has become a great asset," Shaffer said.
While the dog park is now fully operational, Shaffer is already looking into next year and making even more improvements.
"Next year I am hoping to build a pavilion and a water fountain that will serve dogs and humans," he said. "We will be putting the plan together over the winter with the intent to install it in the spring."
He said the plan also includes a few more agility pieces.