Riley’s Dog Park soon to be a reality in Glenwood City
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By Missy Klatt
Riley Unruh, a fourth grader at Glenwood City Elementary School has been raising funds for the past several months to construct a dog park in Glenwood City. The project got its roots from a class paper while she was still in the third grade.
They were assigned a writing assignment where they had to write an Opinion Paper. Riley said most of her classmates were writing about why they needed a class pet but Riley wrote about why Glenwood City needs a dog park now. She was trying to think of something that the community needed and since her classmates were talking about how the class needs a class pet, she was thinking about animals at the time and she thought what about a dog park. That’s where the idea started.
Instead of just doing a school assignment, Riley decided to take this idea and try to make it a reality. She did a lot of research on costs of various items she would need for the park such as benches, picnic tables, garbage cans, a waste station, and signage. She searched the web and made lists of the costs of various items and which sites that they could be purchased from.
On November 21, 2022, Riley presented her plan to the Glenwood City City Council. She was asking to use the land at Hinman Park, east of the tennis courts and there would be no cost to the city as she planned to do all the fund raising for this project. Her initial goal after her research was to raise $2,090. Then she realized that they needed double entrance gates so the dogs couldn’t escape. She wasn’t sure of the cost of them so her goal then was to raise $4,000. To date she is nearly there with over $3,900 raised.
It should also be noted that the city had fencing which used to be around the baseball fields that was basically just laying around so they gave her permission to repurpose the fencing to use for the dog park. If Riley receives more than her goal she also plans to add some agility equipment that the dogs can play on.
The plan is to start “construction” on the park in June after school is over. Rob, Riley’s dad stated that they have some community members that have volunteered to help mark off the area and install the fencing. When it is all said and done the park will be between one and a half to two acres.
Right now there will be no access to water at the park but it may be something they can add in the future if they raise more money or are successful in getting grants. They have applied for a grant from the Purina Company but won’t hear whether they get that until sometime next year. So for now once the park is open people will have to bring their own water with them for the dogs. Unfortunately, they didn’t know about this grant when she first started but someone who works for Purina actually told them about it when they heard what she was doing.
Fundraising for the project has been a very grassroots effort. Riley set up a table at one of the basketball tournaments this winter where she told about the project and solicited donations. She also wrote a letter that she delivered to most of the businesses in town and at some of the businesses she had donation boxes set up. Another way to get the word out was by starting a Facebook page, ‘Riley’s Dog Park’ where she posts pictures and thank you videos for almost everyone that has made a donation.
Most recently they got a tip from a friend that they should contact WESTconsin Credit Union for a donation. Even though the Unruhs aren’t members of the credit union, WESTconsin was so impressed with Riley’s plan and planning for the dog park that were willing to sponsor her project to the tune of $1,000. A rather unexpected surprise.
When asked what the park rules were going to be Riley replied “You have to pick up the poop when your dog goes to the bathroom. Enter at your own risk. No aggressive dogs. You can’t go in there unless you have a pet or something, you can’t go in there just to talk.” Of course the rules will be worded slightly different on the signs but you get the idea.
Those were some of the ideas that Riley has gotten when she and her family have toured other dog parks in the area. The closest ones to here that they visited were in Hudson, Amery and Eau Claire. They are hoping to get down to Durand and see their new park soon as well.
Rob is proud of the way that Riley has really taken ownership of the project. “When she talked about the research of the cost of things that she wanted to put in there, there was no help from mom or dad. If we interjected she got upset. She wanted to be at the forefront.” comments Rob.
He goes on to say that she has kept detailed lists of costs of items and where to find them and broke everything down. Riley did admit to asking a few questions from time to time.
Riley really appreciates all the support of local businesses and the community in this proj etc. When the dog park is ready to open, Riley plans on having a ribbon cutting ceremony and she plans to have tennis balls for the dogs to play with and free dog biscuits. When asked if her dogs, Forest and Cozmo, would be the first to use the dog park she smiled and said “probably.”