After long wait, East Haddam Dog Park opens
By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
East Haddam - posted Mon., Oct. 10, 2011
“Finally, finally, finally,” said Susan Reiter, as First Selectman Mark Walter cut the ribbon celebrating the grand opening of the East Haddam Dog Park on Sunday, Oct. 9. Reiter was part of a group of residents that, six years ago, initiated attempts to establish a dog park in East Haddam, but gave up about a year later after facing a number of problems with the proposed location. Then, five years later, “this spot came up,” said Reiter, and from there things moved very quickly.
The dog park is located at an old ball field adjacent to the Town Beach off the East Haddam-Colchester Turnpike and is operated by the town Parks and Recreation Department. The building of the park is part of the town’s plan to provide greater access and use of town lands by residents, said Walter.
Funded by the town, the dog park “took a week [to build] after we had the money and the approval,” said Parks and Recreation Director Tiffany Quinn, who orchestrated the grand opening event. In addition to the ribbon-cutting, the event included brief addresses by Dr. Lance McLean of the East Haddam Veterinary Clinic, who spoke about the need to vaccinate dogs, particularly if they are going to be among other dogs at the park, and Ken Grohbrugge of New Inn Kennels, who talked about the importance of socializing dogs and the role that dog parks play in that process.
Overlooking the sparkling water of the Moodus Reservoir, the dog park covers nearly the entire former ball field, and is separated by a fence into an area for large dogs and a separate area for small dogs, with both having plenty of room to run. A double-gated entrance protects against dogs escaping from the park once they are off the leash.
About a dozen dogs, along with their owners and friends, attended the grand opening. Priscilla Hoover said that she and her daughter Gillian bring their beagle, Izzy, to the park nearly every day. Izzy likes to run, said Hoover, and the dog park gives her a “place where she can run and be safe.”
Judy Humble, a dog trainer who has been working with dogs for many years, was making her first visit to the park with her Australian shepherd, Rusty, a dog that she rescued after its mother died, and which she now shows.
“I love that it’s on the water,” said Humble, a comment echoed by several others at the park. She, like Reiter and all of the others at the opening, were happy to finally have the park, which met no opposition at all once the site was found.
“Nobody had anything negative to say, not even at the public meetings,” said Quinn, who credits the hard work put into the initial failed attempt for the relative ease of finally establishing the current park. “We had a group of citizens that tried for a long time to get a dog park in town. They did the legwork. They made it much easier this time around,” she said.