It's a dog's life -- at least in Riverhead, where a new dog park is set to open after months of hard work and fundraising.
Riverhead Town Councilman Jim Wooten said on Wednesday that a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new dog park, to be located at Enterprise Park at Calverton, wil take place on Saturday, April 28, at 1 p.m.
A new dog park has been a dream for months for Riverhead resident Denise Lucas, president of Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter, Inc. (RMTAS). Lucas has been working diligently reality -- a plan that includes three new dog parks and to construct and relocate a new municipal animal shelter for the town.
And in six months, Lucas said, the dream has taken shape and wings -- after a flurry of fundraising efforts, efforts continue, with a dog wash this Saturday at Walgreen's and a RMTA event, "Hogs and Hot Rods Rock the Shelter," to take place on April 29 at Calverton Links.
Through donations, raffles, events, boundless energy and long hours, Lucas and supporters are coming together to create the new shelter and dog parks.
The second park will open at Stotsky Park, hopefully in May, with the third slated to be sited at Jamesport Town Beach and to open in June.
The first, acre-sized dog park, will open at Calverton in the same area as new baseball fields the town hopes to unveil in May.
Lucas, who has three dogs, said she was motivated to take action after a visit to the town's animal shelter on Youngs Avenue last Labor Day weekend.
"That's all it took," she said, adding that a new and better enviroment might help to increase adoptions. The new shelter at Calverton will have space for 40 dogs and 40 cats, she said.
Her goal is to get the entire project, including the shelter and all three dog parks, completed in two years. "We're not dragging our heels," she said.
The dog parks, Lucas said, will benefit a wide range of residents. "I think it's a great thing for everyone, because even if you didn't have a pet, you could still have lunch at the picnic tables and sit on the park benches. It's just a place to spend a nice afternoon."
And for pet owners, the parks will provide opportunities for socialization for both four-legged friends and their owners, she said. "It's a great thing for people that don't have fenced in backyards," Lucas said. "It's nice to be able to bring your kids and your dogs -- to pile everyone in the car and go for a drive, to this kind of destination."
Fencing and materials to set up the park were expected to cost between $15,000 and $20,000, Wooten said in an earlier interview.
Lucas thanked Wooten for his support and help with the project. "He goes above and beyond," she said. "He cares. He's put a lot of time and effort into this, for us to be able to move forward."