BUCKHANNON — One might say the Buckhannon Community Dog Park had a “ruff” start.
As Buckhannon mayor David McCauley noted Saturday at the dog park’s official re-dedication ceremony at the Elizabeth J. “Binky” Poundstone Riverwalk Trail, just two years ago, the land upon which the park sits was a 15-foot-high mound of waste materials and demolition debris.
Truckloads of material were removed with the help of Tim Critchfield and the city Street Department, and soon, the 1.4-acre plot of land was surrounded by fencing.
But still, at its official opening in early September 2017, the Buckhannon Community Dog Park was a mess of mud. The day was rainy and chilly, and grass seed that had been planted had not yet grown up.
On Saturday, the sun shone as Maica Critchfield, a golden retriever belonging to city Dog Park Committee member Lisa Critchfield, bounded by a row of recently planted trees and through the green grass to get a ball. She also considered crawling into a tube-shaped obstacle.
The dog park, as Lisa herself noted at Saturday’s rededication, has come a long way.
“We’ve done a lot of hard work over the last year, and we’ve come a long way, but most recently, we’ve been able to fundraise with our Whisker Wonderland and Paws in the Park events,” Critchfield told Maica, Ginny Dixon’s dog, Cait, and the humans in attendance.
“We’ve been able to add the landscaping and the trees,” she said. “We have started to build our wall that our bricks are going to go into — that was another fundraiser we did. And we have been able to install a water station for dogs and people as well as a wash station. We have gravel at our entry now, and soon, we’ll be installing security cameras, so we kind of wanted to celebrate everything we’ve done.”
Retired United Methodist pastor Barry Moll said a blessing over the park.
“We’re especially grateful for the special nature of dogs that You gave to dogs and their unique love for people,” Moll said. “We rededicate the Buckhannon Community Dog Park in Your name today. May it always be a special spot in Buckhannon, West Virginia.”
McCauley said he was in awe of the progress that had been made on the park.
“I remind everyone that just two years or so ago, there was a 15-foot-high mound of materials and demo debris littering this entire 1-acre site,” the mayor said. “During the past 20 months, fences have been installed, signage has been added, grass has been planted, (city horticulturist) Rob Barbor has placed a number of trees within and just outside of our park. A kiosk was mounted, and our new fire hydrant that allows our humans and canines alike to get a drink or take a shower has been installed.”
McCauley said soon, a Dog Memorial Wall, security cameras and additional parking along the park’s south site will be added.
“I think it’s phenomenal that in less than two years, we have this dog park that you see today.”
McCauley thanked West Virginia Wesleyan College for leasing the land as well as Public Works Director Jerry Arnold; Streets Superintendent Brad Hawkins; and Dog Park Committee members Lisa Critchfield, Robin Keough, Ginny Dixon, Brooke Scott, Elissa Mills, Alison Whitehair and Steve Beer.
“Finally, I will observe that this project is founded entirely out of kindness and love for our faithful, furry friends,” McCauley remarked. “I think that a community that takes extra steps to care for, look after and appreciate its canine pals, our children, our senior citizens, those who are disability-challenged — not to mention our veterans, since this is Memorial Day weekend — is destined to be an inclusive and thus, successful community.
“In Buckhannon, we support everyone, and everyone has a seat at our ever-growing table. The more folks we include in our discussions and projects, the more successful we shall prove to be as a community.”