New Dog Park Opens In Hamilton

The new Hamilton Dog Park welcomed community members for the first time for a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 24. Although all construction and initial maintenance on the dog park, located at 81 College Street adjacent to Colgate’s athletic fields, is now complete, the park has not officially opened yet. Hamilton Dog Park volunteers held the ribbon-cutting ceremony with the village and residents as a way to celebrate the work that was completed and spur community interest.  

Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement for Alumni Relations Timothy Mansfield, along with other community members, began expressing interest in organizing a dog park project as early as 2013. 

“Back in approximately 2013, some volunteers were gathering to discuss the benefits of a dog park and what it would take to bring one to Hamilton. I raised my hand and said that I’d be happy to meet with a group of people that were having that conversation, so I would consider myself at that early date one of the fellow volunteers,” Mansfield said.

Mansfield began working with the village of Hamilton through different organizations that grants could be written to, as well as donors that helped make the project a reality, including Founder of local business Innervision Crystals Mike Eggelston. Mansfield also worked to craft estimates with landscaping firms and fence companies, simultaneously communicating his progress with local families and community members to gauge their interest.

Junior Kataryna Piña, who has her dog on campus this semester, said she feels the new dog park is a necessary addition to the town.

“There are a lot of dogs in the community and on campus,” Piña said. “I feel like the dog park needs to be advertised more so that students are aware that that is a space for them as well.”

Mansfield explained that while the dog park is fully complete, it remains not accessible to the general public at this time.

“Once the grass grows and develops roots underneath, the village will open the park to the public. Right now, the soil and roots are still growing in and they need time to develop. If the park were fully open now, it would quickly become muddy and degraded, requiring even more construction and maintenance in the Spring,” Mansfield said.

Mansfield elaborated on the significance of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We had about 25 guests at the ceremony – donors, pet owners, volunteers, and the mayor of Hamilton,” Mansfield said. “In simple terms, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was a way to hand off the completed dog park to the village of Hamilton. The park is the Village’s property, and they will continue to mow the lawn and clear off snow as we head into the winter. Up until now, all of this maintenance has been completely volunteer[-based].”

Mansfield explained that although the dog park is now fully under the Village’s jurisdiction, the village still wants a core group of individuals to help field complaints and questions that might arise down the road. Because of this, a small ad-hoc committee for the dog park will remain on the village board to settle and handle any issues that may arise, including problems between park-goers and local businesses. 

“Even though the park is not yet open, people have been hearing about it on Facebook [and] they’re getting excited. People have actually been going down to the park only to find locked gates, yet they are still playing with their pets in that general area and potentially disrupting the operations of the neighboring businesses. This is a good example of the importance of maintaining a good relationship with our neighbours there,” Mansfield said.

Mansfield also hopes to keep the dog park partially funded through donations from student groups and organizations on campus as organizers prepare to raise money for park benches and canopies to provide shade in the summer. Different communities on campus would be able to donate different amounts of money and add their name to the park through different signage and bench placard options.

Mansfield hopes that the park will bring the community together, but also spur interest among Colgate students.

“They call it pet therapy. I do think that there is appeal to dogs and families, and I know many students have pets at home they miss while away. The Hamilton Dog Park would be a great place for students to go and enjoy the company of pets and dogs during the school year. The dog park could also be a space for Colgate community service projects,” Mansfield said.

Piña echoed this sentiment, stressing the importance of animals to the heath of the community.

“Dogs contribute so much to positive mental health,” Piña said. “Considering that [my dog] Bailey is my emotional support animal on campus, I and my roommates have become aware of how much he has contributed to our well-bring on this campus during this time.”