Glen Rock Goes to the Dogs
Glen Rock is headed to the dogs as of Dec. 9 -- and both chipper canines and their owners could not be happier.
On Nov. 23, the Glen Rock Council approved junior Michelle Hillock’s plan to erect a dog park on Doremus Avenue, between Upper and Lower Faber Field. The decision was formalized when the council met again on Dec 9.
"It's a great location because it is currently unused and in disrepair, such as overgrown weeds and DPW [Department of Public Works] storage," said Eileen Hillock, mother to Michelle and adviser of the project. “An added benefit - there is parking is available directly in front of the park and there are restrooms nearby.”
The Hillocks’ golden retrievers Brody and Leo, served as a source of inspiration for Michelle’s Gold and Silver Awards for Girl Scouts. In September 2013, Hillock designed a “Dog Walk-A-Thon” to collect donations for Ramapo Bergen Animal Shelter and raise awareness for the then nascent dog park.
"After originally presenting the project to the council for my Gold Award, I requested the council consider building a dog park in Glen Rock," Hillock said. "At that time, they said there was really no space in Glen Rock for a dog park."
For the following two years, Hillock visited nearby dog parks and conducted research on eco-friendly alternatives for the park.
Hillock soon realized that the project would consume more time than she had anticipated, and she feared that despite her diligence the Council would not even approve it.
"So earlier this year, we restarted the project with a vengeance and a new game plan,"Hillock said. "I researched locations in details and presented the options to the Council several times, before compromising on the Doremus location earlier this month."
The legal process was extensive. Hillock recruited the help of her mother, Eileen, to aid in establishing the non-profit and serving as a Board Chair. Hillock's age inhibits her from independently executing her proposal from a legal perspective.
"We then needed to gather support, research best practices, identify potential locations and discuss the pros and cons of each location, attend Working Sessions and Council meetings to present the idea, options and Project Proposal and solicit resident feedback throughout the process," Eileen Hillock said.
According to the proposal, the perimeter of the prospective dog park will be fenced and the interior of the park will be divided into two sections – one section for small dogs and one section for large dogs. For each section, there will be a double entry gate. At minimum, the blueprint indicates that the dog park will have running water and shaded areas.
Additional luxuries are dependent on the amount of money collected through fundraising. If adequate funds are provided, residents of Glen Rock can expect to see amenities such as an entrance gazebo adorned with a notice board, benches, agility equipment, security cameras, engraved brick pavers, ceramic tiles, and additional landscaping.
"Since the stipulation we've all agreed to states that no Borough funds will be used the construct the park, the start date depends on when we raise the money," Eileen said. “Ideally we would like to 'break ground’ in the spring of 2016, however, I know that is an ambitious target.”
The Glen Rock Dog Park Inc. has been established as a 501(c)(3) public charity. This means that donations towards the charity are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
The organization is working in conjunction with the Glen Rock Department of Public Works, which will continue to gather funds for ongoing park maintenance. Additionally, Hillock has established a committee who focuses specifically on fundraising for the park. The committee will sell "#GlenRockDogPark" apparel and dog-related items.
"The dog park will be a much welcomed addition to Parks and Recreation. I believe the location is about as perfect as you could find," said Councilwoman Joan Orseck, division of parks, public grounds, and recreation. "To me personally (and, I no longer have a dog) it was what I would call a 'no brainer'. All benefit!"
The anticipated dog park will be eco-friendly. Hillock is working in cooperation with students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a Glen Rock High School alumnus to discuss viable eco-friendly options.
“I am happy to hear about bringing a dog park to Glen Rock for many reasons,” said Cheryl Klein, owner of The Daily Skoop LLC, a local dog-walking service. “I love the idea of families going to the park together and seeing the benefit of many people in general (owning a dog or not) watching and enjoying the playfulness of dogs running off leash.”
The Dog Park will function as a memorial for the search and rescue dogs that served as a beacon of hope for many during the horrific events of 9/11. Space will also be allocated in the park for donor recognition.
“I worked in 2WTC at the time of the tragedy and I am happy to be able to, in a small way, help recognize the heroic canines and their handlers who assisted in many ways throughout that event,” Eileen said.
Not only will Hillock’s project entertain the hounds of Glen Rock, but it will also act as a uniting force for the community. The park will provide a forum for interaction between Glen Rock residents and volunteer opportunities.
“Another goal for the Dog Park is to provide one multi-generational recreation area for Glen Rock and the surrounding communities where people of ages can gather (with our without their pets) to enjoy puppies and dogs interacting with their humans,” Eileen said.
The approximate 800 registered canine companions of Glen Rock can expect to see the product of Hillock’s persistence set into motion in the near future.
To contribute to the project visit: www.GoFundMe.com/GlenRockNJDogPark and for more information visit http://www.glenrocknjdogpark.org/.