New Park is for the DogsSep 29, 2020 11:50AM ● By Susan Manning
Your furry canine friends have a new place in town to hang out. Eddie‘s Park at Middlesex Path opened last month after almost 7 years of planning.
The park, which sits on conservation land, is maintained by a group of volunteers. The Conservation Commission are the landowners and stewards of the land, but fundraising efforts and volunteer coordination for ongoing maintenance will be led by FIDO of Natick.
“Middlesex Path is a long-established nature trail in the Historic District and the dog park is an additional asset to this amenity. So far this summer, there have been several successful ‘weeding days’ and trash cleanups,” said the FIDO board.
FIDO—Fun Informed Dog Owners—of Natick was cofounded by current board members Kelly McPherson, Melissa Cusson, Kim Condon, and Nancy Murphy.
The topic of a Natick dog park was raised at a Natick Open Space Committee open forum in fall 2013. The meeting was held to discuss the matter and to encourage the formation of a working team. The majority of the current FIDO of Natick Board, along with many longstanding supporters, attended that first and subsequent meetings. They also attended site visits to determine the location of the dog park, eventually leading to the official formation of FIDO of Natick Inc (incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2014).
So who is the Eddie in Eddie’s Park?
According to the FIDO board, on Nov. 11, 2014, 18-month-old Eddie Kramer passed away unexpectedly and his parents directed all donations in his memory to FIDO of Natick because he was such a lover of dogs. This pulled forward the window in which FIDO was able to put forward the Stanton Foundation Grant for the town – a $250,000 private grant for design and construction of a dog park with the stipulation that a nonprofit (FIDO) support and fund at least 10%.
The board said “Nearly 7 years and countless meetings later, we celebrated the Grand Opening of Eddie’s Park on September 4, 2020.”
As in most cases, there was a little bit of pushback from a few concerned citizens along the way, but the board said the town has always “been very thorough and supportive.”
A list of park rules can be found on its website and posted at the location. Of note, children under 10 are not allowed at the park, and neither are prong or choke collars on dogs.
“While Natick has many beautiful parks available to children and leashed dogs, Eddie’s Park is the only public area where dogs can run off-leash. To prioritize dog and owner safety, access is permitted to children aged 10 or over, as this welcomes children at a more responsible age to engage with their dog, while preventing smaller children from encountering running, jumping, and rambunctious dog play and accidents happening. Dog behavior in the dog park can vary from behavior in the home and, not all dogs are raised around or comfortable with children,” board members said.
Prong collars are not allowed because of a safety issue. Dogs can often engage in healthy, boisterous play and prong collars and even harnesses pose a choking, strangling, and entanglement risk. While some people utilize prong collars as a training tool, they are not intended to be left on the dog outside of training periods, they said.
The board hopes that the park will become an integral part of the community.
“This park will be a valuable community resource while forging new bonds within and outside of its bounds. FIDO has an ever-growing support system of dog owners, dog lovers, and community advocates at www.Facebook.com/groups/FIDOofNatick,” they said.
“We couldn’t be more proud of this milestone, of creating the first-ever dog park in Natick, and we hope the community will enjoy it (safely) for many years to come!” they continued.
To make a tax-deductible donation, visit paypal.me/FIDOofNatick. Donations go toward community education and ongoing dog park maintenance. Visit www.FIDOofNatick.com for more information.