PAWfect Plans in Progress
by Cate Murway
One of the newest plan sequels in historic Bristol on the Delaware is “Gone with the Leash”.
Because dogs in most suburban environments are generally confined to a crate, areas of the home, or small sections of the yard most of the time, the visionary and Dog Park Advisory Board President, Christa Lorraine [Lydon] Barlow is set on establishing a “Bristol Borough Bark Park”, a safe, clean, friendly and attractive square acre haven for dogs.
Typically, dogs are taken on daily walks, but they cannot run free or easily socialize with other dogs because of strictly enforced leash laws.
An off-leash dog area, a dog park, could provide a community setting for people to gather and socialize while they can observe the interaction of groups of dogs at play, adding value and quality of life to their communities.
Christa and her Dog Park Advisory Board are good at presenting ideas and they truly believe, “If you help us build it. They will come. We are really committed to this idea. We are serious.”
Their goal is to raise sufficient funding, monies for fencing, trashcans, landscaping, and a drinking water source for dogs and for people. Membership fees for the park would help support maintenance and perhaps allow the elderly to use the park for free, to enjoy watching their dogs recreate.
Christa's presentation is very analytical and her initial venture was to gather community/government support to build a dog park here in the Borough. She is ready to supervise, organize and lead and she started the process with a question.
“Is there anyone who would be interested? I got an overwhelming response. Hundreds said ‘Yes’”
Dog Park Advisory Board Vice President, "Lioness of the Year 2010-2011" Jayne McPherson-Young, the proprietor of Got Wine? on Market Street in the Borough, owns 3 dogs, a 14-year old fox terrier, an 8-year old toy fox terrier and a 3-year old shih Tzu/Chihuahua mix with lots of pep.
“They need a spot to run out their energy. Living in a row home, with just 40 feet of yard, makes it difficult for the dogs to run, jump and interact. Some dogs are like a single child. They need a playmate. They need to go into a confined area and have fun.” A dog park seems to be the answer.
“Dog people are special people. They love their dogs like their children.”
Christa and her husband, James David Barlow, an industrial mechanical engineer who designs pressure vessels were living in a studio apartment in Center City when they first married and then they bought a puppy that needed room. They originally rented an apartment on Radcliffe Street and have stayed in the Borough ever since. They now own a twin home with a small backyard and a side yard.
“I love the Borough. It’s beautiful here.”
They have two children who are students at School Lane Charter School, Chayla Rose, and Ciaran Edward, who dances at the Stepping Stone Dance Studio in the Grundy Commons.
Their 60-pound pets are “Lily”, a 3-year-old shepherd-huskie mix and “Chakita”, a 6-year-old Chow/Akita mix.
The dog park should not be used as a substitute for a daily walk.
“The whole idea of a dog park is that the dogs can be off a leash and run around with the other dogs. Many of the people in the borough really have not much yard space.”
Christa is hoping that those using the park will become a community focused group, and this would provide a way for people to connect. In this high tech society of ours, people may find it easier to talk to each other using their dogs as the initial focus, working around social barriers that make people perceive others as strangers. A designated dog park would provide a location for owners and their dogs to spend time together, as well as offering the canines a space for play and companionship with other dogs.
Membership fees would make everyone feel more invested, but there will be a certain trust factor necessary. There would be no one monitoring the area 24/7, but the plan is to provide key fobs that will supply “track- ability”. The key card entry gate would permit only members.
The Rules on a sign outside of the neighboring Morrisville Dog Park were clearly posted. That park is a partnership between a community group and the municipality and their sign also conveyed that they give “A round of APAWS for our supporters”.
They advocate “No leash… No problem”. Children under the age of twelve are not permitted in the two fenced areas, one for large dogs 35 pounds or more and one for the smaller pets. There are benches for the owners and shaded areas are provided.
Amy Black and the 11-month-old lab that she fosters were in the park. “I use the park in Morrisville because there is a more predictable group of dogs and Zhavier has room to play.”
Hilary Vannozzi shared, “We used to go to the Park in Falls Township but we just moved to Morrisville recently. This is a great way for our three-year-old beagle “Buster” to socialize and get out more energy than just a walk.”
Christa stated, “I think a dog park will work here in the Borough because it will give dog owners a place to take their pets to run and play.” She feels that an important factor is to make the park ADA compliant, accessible to everyone. A tiered membership would accommodate non- Borough residents as well. “Others would love to have a place to take their dogs for a run. A local community dog park may help attract younger families to this area.”
Christa and her committee members are learning quickly how to raise money, find fundraising sources and ideas, write petitions, and figuring out exactly how to run these special events. The “Bark Park” would be a community project so the group received permission to use the Grundy Ice Skating Rink with a “Vendor Mixer” theme for their fundraiser. This successful and well attended event was the first of their ardent efforts to raise over $30,000 to fund the park. They also collected food donations to help benefit the local food pantries.
“ A HUGE thanks to everyone who came out to make the Bark Park’s first official fundraiser a huge success!”
“Not everyone has dogs. Not everyone likes dogs. It would serve a purpose for those who do not want to see dogs unattended. I would like to give something back to the community.”
Christa is a big believer in the Borough and she enjoys that everyone is so busy, but still so connected.
“You can’t ask for better experiences. I like coming home to Bristol. There’s a sense of stability and a sense of calm.”
The only way a community dog park gets built is when the community participates in the process.
The Dog Park Advisory Board’s general meetings are at 7:00 p.m. the first Monday of every month at the Grundy Library, 680 Radcliffe Street. The next meeting will be held Monday, September 9th because of the Labor Day holiday. Come hear about their progress and their plans for the future.
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