Out & About: Bradford, Vt., plans dog park

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/23/2022 8:49:21 PM
Modified: 1/24/2022 1:25:28 PM

BRADFORD, Vt. — Come summer, Bradford, Vt., may be home to the Upper Valley’s newest dog park.

The Bradford Parks and Recreation Task Force and the Bradford Parks and Recreation Department are currently trying to raise $30,000 to build a park on an unused part of Memorial Field behind the Bradford Academy building in downtown Bradford.

“We have a baseball and softball field down there and a boat launch for river access,” said Michael Wright, who is chair of the task force and a member of the Parks and Recreation Department’s commission. “The corner that it’s going in, it’s really the only thing that can go there. It’s soft and wet.”

The two groups are raising money from businesses and individuals. Wright and others are in the process of planning fundraisers, including a silent auction in March. People will also be able to purchase benches, stone pavers and trees to name after their pets, though the details are still being worked out. Once $20,000 is raised, the work will begin.

“Our goal is to start building it in roughly May or June of this year,” Wright said. The biggest cost will be $17,000 for a fence. “We can do it in phases.”

After the initial set up costs, it will cost roughly $1,000 a year for maintenance and supplies. Although it will be owned by the town, the town will not fund it.

“The plan is to collect donations throughout the year that will go into a fund to help maintain the park this way it’s not on the taxpayers to maintain it, so to speak,” Wright said.

The idea for a dog park sprung out of a series of community forums held last year about what residents wanted out of Bradford.

“One of the big interests was expanding and improving recreational activities in Bradford,” Wright said.

The dog park will have an area for large dogs and a separate space for small dogs. The large dog area will be 175 feet long by 80 feet wide and the small dog area will be 100 feet long by 40 feet wide. There will also be watering stations, shady areas and structures for climbing and exercise. There are also plans to upgrade a parking lot to make it ADA accessible and all the gates will be wide enough so that people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices can have full access to the park.

“There’s so much more room to grow,” Wright said. “There’s river access so after play they can take their dogs to splash around in the river.”

The closest dog parks to Bradford are in Newbury, Vt., Barre and Hartford. There aren’t any formal places in Bradford where people can let their dogs run off-leash, though Wright said the site of the proposed park has been used unofficially for that purpose.

“Right now basically what we’re doing is giving a safer place so they can let their dogs free off leashes,” Wright said. “I know there’s people who have interest in this dog park who visit other dog parks almost daily.”

Wright and his wife have two small dogs that have a fenced in area in their yard to run around in. He said once the dog park is built, they will use it.

“I think that’s how it is with a lot of dogs in town,” Wright said. “They have their fenced in areas, but they’re so limited by size.”

The Selectboard unanimously approved the proposal last November, Wright said.

“We didn’t hear any objections from anyone in town,” Wright said. “Everyone seemed to be very supportive of it.”

There are also secondary benefits to the community. Wright has heard from residents in neighboring communities who would make use of the park. It could bring people to Bradford who might not ordinarily make the trip.

“It not only gives people a place for dogs to play, it also brings people to Bradford to help businesses flourish,” Wright said.

Editor’s note: For more information, visit donorbox.org/bradford-vt-dog-park or email parksandrecreationtaskforce@gmail.com. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

CORRECTION: Fundraising for the dog park in Bradford, Vt., is a joint effort with Bradford Parks and Recreation Department and the Parks and Recreation Task Force. Michael Wright is chairman of the task force and a commission member of the department. The fundraising efforts and Wright's titles were incorrectly described in a previous version of this story.

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