AGAWAM – In 2010, Scott Milliken posted an article, inquiring who would be interested in bringing a dog park to Agawam. His answer was a meeting room crowded with community members and a phone call from the mayor.
Nearly five years later, the town has broken ground on a site for that dog park.
Mayor Richard Cohen, Director of Parks and Recreation Christopher Sparks, Town Councilor George Bitzas, president of Agawam Dog Owners Group (ADOG) Debbi Sanchez, Milliken and other members of the community came out on April 14 for the groundbreaking ceremony.
The park, set to open in the summer, will be located next to Shea Field on Armory Street.
After years of waiting, supporters of the dog park are excited to have construction begin.
“We can’t wait for the gates to open,” Sanchez said to the crowd. “This is going to a premiere park for the Pioneer Valley and Western Massachusetts, and we’re excited to see it come to fruition.”
Funding for the park, which will cost around $200,000 according to Cohen’s announcement, came from The Stanton Foundation. The foundation’s Dog Park program funds 100 percent of the design services and 90 percent of the construction costs.
Aside from the Stanton Foundation, ADOG raised $10,000 for the park and the Community Preservation Act gave a $14,000 grant to the cause.
Chet Wojcik, an Agawam resident, at the groundbreaking ceremony, donated an additional $5,000.
Bitzas said the community has come together to make this happen, especially in regards to fundraising.
“It’s a great group of people, and I’m very proud of them. It started with a great group of people,” Bitzas said. “They had fundraisers, they were everywhere … We’re very happy. It’ll be great for everybody.”
The dog park, designed by Berkshire Design Group, will be a neighbor to a skate park and Shea field, and Cohen said that is what makes this project special.
“This is what makes a park a park, these community types of venues,” Cohen said.
The final product has been years in the making, and Milliken said he did not realize how many residents were looking for a place to bring their dogs. Sanchez said Agawam would have eventually made it to this point, but Milliken accelerated the process.
“We wouldn’t be here if Scott didn’t come forward. We might have been here a couple of years from now,” Sanchez said.
As for Milliken, he said he can hardly believe his vision is becoming a reality.
“It’s finally here. It feels great. Without the help of all of these people and the Agawam Dog Owners Group, we would have never gotten this far,” Milliken said. “This is just fantastic. I come to Robinson all the time with my dog and we run the trails and I’ve just been imagining that we were going to have this park.