BRATTLEBORO — A dog park is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Organizers behind the efforts recently learned of an award of $1,000 through the Vermont Community Foundation's Small and Inspiring grant program.
"That was our first grant that we had submitted for and the first that we were awarded," said Rachel Selsky, who along with her husband is coordinating the project.
Last summer, a spot adjacent from the proposed skatepark at an upper section of Living Memorial Park was identified and approved as the location for the dog park. The 8,000-square-foot space will be fully fenced in and dogs will not be required to wear leashes.
Selsky's idea is to offer "a safe, fun and comfortable" place for dogs and their owners, where they can socialize and exercise.
Two other Vermont Community Foundation grants offered to Brattleboro-based projects have been applied for. Those are the Crosby-Gannett Fund and Dunham-Mason Fund grants. Together, they would bring in about $750.
Selsky's group is actively fundraising. While the park's opening depends upon donations, she said she hopes it will happen by spring 2017.
An estimated cost of $17,000 needs to be covered.
"Fencing material and labor," said Selsky. "That's really the biggest cost."
Also included in the figure were benches, trash cans, receptacles for dog waste and other supplies.
A notice seeking donations was attached to dog license renewal forms sent out by the Town Clerk's Office in Brattleboro. Letters written to local business owners also asked for support.
"We're in the planning stages of reaching out to dog owners in neighboring communities to see if they'd be interested in the programming," said Selsky. "We're still pretty small in terms of fundraising. There are no major events at this point but we're open to those ideas. We still need some more volunteers."
Donations are coming in through the town's Recreation and Parks Department and a website, youcaring.com/town-of-brattleboro-residents-419799. A contribution of $250 or more can get a person or business a sign at the park's entrance.
A Facebook page, found by searching Brattleboro Dog Park, features updates on the project. About 200 people have liked the page, meaning they'll see posts from the group on their feed.
Positive feedback has come in the form of letters from residents and an animal control officer.
"Everyone we've spoken to has been really excited about the idea," Selsky said. "There certainly is demand and interest in getting the dog park. No one's really taken the ball and run with it."
To volunteer, Selsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Chris Mays at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.