Always ‘Dog Days’ at the Dog Park

Nancy Earney of Marshalltown looks back on June 19, 2010 fondly. That was the grand opening of the Marshalltown Dog Park.

The late Mayor Gene Beach presided over a Chamber of Commerce sponsored ribbon-cutting at the 4.5 acre, leash-free facility at the far east end of Riverview Park.

Also joining Beach were Parks and Recreation Director Terry Gray, local elected officials, and members of the Dog Park committee.

The June 19 celebration had been earned, as the committee had worked for more than one year raising money, writing grants and coordinating efforts with Gray and her staff.

The committee formed in 2009 with Nancy Earney as chairperson. Later, her husband Bill Earney succeeded her.

Now almost four years later, Nancy Earney talked about the committee’s work and the park’s positive impact on the Marshalltown area. “Since the park opened, many individuals, families and their dogs have enjoyed it – the park is a place for all to play and socialize,” she said. “It has drawn more people to the park to use its other features and truly has become an asset which enhances Marshalltown.”

That enjoyment will continue, Earney said, if users register their dog or dogs this month.

“Registering your dog each year is a great way to show support for the park and help pay for maintenance and future improvements,” she said.

All registered dogs are given a special colored tag to wear on their collar showing they are a “Friend of the Marshalltown Dog Park.”

Maintenance performed by Parks and Recreation staff include garbage pick-up, mowing and removal of snow from the parking lot, according to Gray.

The most recent improvement was the installation of a water line last fall, which provides drinking water.

After nearly four years of operation, Gray is pleased with the number of registrations, annual renewals, park usage and the commitment by volunteers that help keep the park maintained.

“The original dog park committee not only raised money to build the park as no city funds were used – it has provided volunteers to assist with park maintenance, and other tasks,” she said. “And others from the area have joined them. Since the park is used throughout the four seasons, volunteers help by shoveling snow and making sure dogs are registered.”

The Earneys said they have scaled back their work with the Dog Park committee, as others stepped forward to volunteer.

The couple and committee members have relished the opportunity over the years to counsel other Iowa communities on developing a dog park as the Marshalltown operation quickly earned the reputation as a sterling model.

“The dog park is truly a reflection of the strong partnership between the committee and Parks and Recreation,” said Earney.