Bellevue dog park needs a helping hand
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Dogs in Bellevue soon will have a safe haven in which to frolic untethered with their friends at a new park, known as the Bellevue Dog Woods.
There are a lot of dog lovers in Bellevue, but Connie Rankin is one of the biggest. Her 7-year-old, 153-pound Great Dane, Arthur, can boast to all the other dogs that his mom was the brainchild of the new park.
"I had this idea in my mind that Bellevue should have a dog park before I even had a dog," recalled Ms. Rankin, publisher of a local newspaper. "My neighbors and friends all have dogs, and they would complain about the conditions of other dog parks. We had the property right here, and I thought it shouldn't be hard to put it together if the taxpayers don't have to fund it."
But presenting the idea to borough officials wasn't enough to make it happen, so Ms. Rankin enlisted the aid of council member Jane Braunlich in coming up with a plan, which they presented to council more than a year ago.
With an initial donation of $5,000, work on the future dog park began in the summer of 2011.
"I had some money certified for a project, the kids at the elementary school raised money, and we've gotten great corporate support," said Ms. Rankin, noting that about $12,000 was raised for the dog park last year, which went into fencing and grading the property. "We've been doing what we can to get it going, and we're right on the edge of making this a dog park that's completely unlike anything in this area, including an obstacle course -- but our biggest obstacle is money. There are some things we can't do by ourselves."
Mrs. Braunlich said she thinks dogs outnumber residents, three to one. She points to herself as an example: "I don't have any dogs, but I still have three dogs," she said explaining that the three dogs that live in her house belong to her children.
Dog Woods will be open to all dogs that can follow park rules, no matter where they live.
Located just above the baseball field, the Dog Woods site used to be known as "Fireworks Hill," but doubled as a dumping ground for the borough's roads.
"It was a mess," recounted Mrs. Braunlich as she stood atop the clearing of land which will soon become a fenced-in run for the big dogs. "Beneath this land there are tons of bricks -- from cobblestone and yellow brick roads -- discarded by the borough throughout the years."
She dreams of a landscaped dog run, which could include a little pond accented by flowers, but acknowledges that it all takes hard work and money. Along with her husband, Mike Braunlich, and volunteers like Mark Purcell, who lives next to the park in Ross, they spent three days learning to auger the holes for the fence posts.
"We're setting the fence posts with an amazing substance known in the industry as 'liquid dirt,' which sets like concrete, but without all the work that goes into pouring concrete," said Mr. Purcell, a Doberman owner. "Duquesne Light donated it to us. They use it to secure their telephone poles."
A certified heavy equipment operator, he offered to do the grading, and his son, Mark Purcell Jr., donated the use of the heavy equipment from his business, Steel City Landscape.
But it's not quite enough.
"We need another $10,000 to 15,000 at least," he said.
As a nonprofit corporation, the group has been holding fundraisers and selling T-shirts and calendars to raise more money and gain the interest of potential volunteers.
"The dog park could be completed early this summer, if we get enough help," Mrs. Braunlich said.
"We're up there working every Saturday morning," Ms. Rankin said. "Come on by."
Donations can be sent to 535 Citizen Way, Bellevue, PA 15202 or email BellevueDogWoods@gmail.com.
First Published July 6, 2012 12:00 am