April 13, 2022

Dog Park Alliance and Princeton Council Work Together to Bring Dog Park to Town

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GATSBY!: The Princeton Dog Park Alliance recently celebrated the birthdays of two canine members, Gatsby and Frankie. The Alliance is teaming up with Princeton Council to establish a dog park in Princeton. (Photo by Mitia Tikov)

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton dogs and their owners have been looking forward for a long time to enjoying the many benefits of neighborhood dog parks.  The Princeton Dog Park Alliance, a group of local dog owners that has been working with Princeton Council to establish a dog park in town, is finally seeing its goal in sight. 

“Dog parks are great for dogs,” said Calvin Chin, chair of the Dog Park Alliance Board of Trustees and owner of a 16-month-old cockapoo named Gatsby.  “They allow dogs to socialize and exercise. Better socialized dogs make for better behaved dogs, and even more important than the benefit to the dogs is the benefit to the community.”

Councilwoman Mia Sacks, who has been leading the municipality’s efforts to create a dog park, agreed. “Dog parks build community, and the physical, emotional, and social benefits of these recreational spaces for both humans and dogs are well documented,” she said.

Chin expanded on the multiple benefits that a dog park can bring. “Dog parks are a place where people from all different backgrounds can come together to join in community and talk with one another and be with each other, and the thing that they share is the love for their dogs,” he said.

Pointing out the surge in new dog owners during the pandemic, Chin went on, “One of the things that the pandemic also showed us is how important community is. It was getting together with other dog owners and meeting them and being able to connect with them and find community with them that really made me realize how important and how lovely it would be if there was a place in Princeton where we could do that.”

A Princeton dog park is long overdue, according to Sacks. “Our residents have been pleading for a dog park for more than a decade, and Princeton is embarrassingly behind other communities in the area, and the rest of the country, in making one available,” she said.

In July 2019 Princeton Council — noting the potential of a dog park to help build community, to promote interaction among residents, to provide physical and mental health benefits for dogs and owners, and to promote public safety — passed a resolution to establish  a Dog Park Task Force that would lay the groundwork for a Princeton dog park.

With Sacks as its leader the Dog Park Task Force investigated possible sites and examined logistical issues related to construction and operation.  The Dog Park Alliance made a presentation to Princeton Council last November, and Council directed staff to work on finalizing a location and logistics.  Creation of a dog park in Princeton was included as one of Council’s goals for 2022.

“One issue is whether it makes more sense to have a larger park for the whole town or a series of smaller, walkable, neighborhood-focused recreation areas,” said Sacks. “Plans are in the works for a small, centrally located, enclosed recreation area, and we will use that as a pilot  to determine next steps.”

The Dog Park Alliance is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and is soliciting funds from the public to help create and maintain facilities for dogs and their owners.  For further information and an opportunity to donate to support the group’s efforts, visit the Princeton Dog Park Alliance website at princetondogpark.org.

Chin described his cockapoo Gatsby as very social. “He loves running around and socializing,” said Chin. “I love seeing how happy he is when he gets a chance to play with other dogs.”