Her nominator wrote, in part, “Maria’s group has developed a vision and a non-governmental approach to creating a dog park. They have also found ways to encourage non-confrontational efforts to work in conjunction with town government to move the effort forward in what looks to be a positive outcome.”
This is good news for the town of Weston because creating a dog park can come with a hefty price tag. When the city of Mt. Pleasant and Union Township looked into the cost to build a dog park, the price tag ranged from $141,000 to over $300,000.
Instead, Maria’s group offered to fundraise up to $40,000 and apply for grants if the town would donate a piece of land.
No sense reinventing the wheel
An important piece of advice that Maria offers to others who want to start a similar project in their own city or town is to take an initial pulse of the community. First, find out if there’s sufficient interest among residents.
The next step is to reach out to other towns with dog parks and find out how they started. Maria admits that she was unsure of the processes and procedures for working with her town officials, but she asked a lot of questions, was methodical and diligent – and tackled the project step-by-step.
“I started this project with a question, and I kept asking ‘what’s next?’”
Quick to point out that she is not in this alone, Maria and four other board members formed a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3), The Weston Dog Park Committee. You can follow their progress at www.westondogpark.org and on Facebook.
“It’s a lot of work and it can be frustrating at times,” Maria said. Still, she added, “It’s also a lot of fun.”
It’s a safe bet that Chase, Shadow and other Weston canines will agree with the “fun” part when they’re hanging out together next summer – at their new dog park.