Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Park projects almost reality, but need residents’ backing

2/24/2014

Changes are occurring at Forest Park to improve the quality of life of Ottawa’s two-legged and four-legged residents.

Fences are going up at the home of the Ottawa Bark Park, situated in the northwest corner of Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St. The area is expected to feature a common entrance. Then the dogs — depending on their size — which will feed into either the 0.5-acre small off-leash dog run area or the 1.2-acre off-leash big dog area. Though the park is yet to feature any planned amenities — large rocks, a pet waste station and pet water fountain — each area has all dogs’ favorite feature ... trees (10 and 19 respectively).

Changes are occurring at Forest Park to improve the quality of life of Ottawa’s two-legged and four-legged residents.

Fences are going up at the home of the Ottawa Bark Park, situated in the northwest corner of Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St. The area is expected to feature a common entrance. Then the dogs — depending on their size — which will feed into either the 0.5-acre small off-leash dog run area or the 1.2-acre off-leash big dog area. Though the park is yet to feature any planned amenities — large rocks, a pet waste station and pet water fountain — each area has all dogs’ favorite feature ... trees (10 and 19 respectively).

The Bark Park’s lead sponsors, Advantage Ford and Raymond and Marguerite Gibson, funded the basics, but more money is needed for the group to reach its $50,000 fundraising goal. Animal lovers spoke out loudly when the local animal shelter’s cemetery markers were removed. Now is the time for those same dog enthusiasts to reach into their wallets to “pay it forward” and support this worthwhile initiative.

The dog park ranked high on a list of amenities Ottawa residents wanted. That wish now is becoming a tail-wagging reality, though it isn’t the only excitement at Forest Park.

Just a little ways down the road, and on the other side of the street, a thrilling new playground — aptly named Forest Park Adventureland — is nearing installation. Land has been cleared where the former decades-old timber playground was located, awaiting the volunteer installation of the new generously-sized playground on consecutive Saturdays, March 22 and March 29. More than 100 volunteers are needed. So far, just 18 people have signed up to make this project come to life. Willing participants are encouraged to sign up http://ourdreamplayground.kaboom.org/

The certified-fun playground, which will have twice as big of a footprint as its predecessor and be built on top of a wood chip ground surface, is designed to include all children — including those with disabilities. It is expected to offer a challenging and active setting with traditional and not-so-traditional equipment, including a play web climbing structure, cozy cocoon swing, rock climbing wall, an arrow glider and lots and lots of ways to climb to keep children engaged in play for long periods of time resulting in healthier and stronger kids and families.

Organizers have raised $141,750 of the estimated $150,000 needed for the new playground, but need to close the $8,000-plus funding gap to finish the project. A Willie Nelson & Other Outlaws tribute concert is planned 7 p.m. March 29 at Ottawa Municipal Auditorium, Third and Hickory streets, to raise funds. However, people and businesses can contribute to the effort without going to the concert by sending or dropping off checks at Ottawa’s City Hall designated for the concert/playground fund.

As Ottawa prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday later this year, these two projects are perfect opportunities to contribute and make a lasting difference on the community’s quality of life for human and pet residents alike for decades to come.

 

Jeanny Sharp,

editor and Publisher

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