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New dog park now open

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By Rachel Christian

Mount Vernon pups have a new place to play after a dog park opened in Mount Vernon this weekend.

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The MV Bark Park, located in the lot behind Brittlebank Pool, held a grand opening ceremony for registered users and members of the public from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

The 1,500 square foot enclosed “leash-free zone” is a project spearheaded by residents and the Black Township Parks and Recreation Department that began last year.

A table with registration forms sat outside the fenced in dog park Saturday to sign up new members. Inside, dogs and their owners alike took time to socialize and enjoy the clear spring morning.

Andy Norrell, shelter manager at the Posey Humane Society, brought several adoptable dogs out to interact with residents and enjoy the day. The three pups ran around the open lot, chasing tennis balls and playfully snipping at each other’s tails. All of them, except for Norrell’s own dog, wore colorful vests with the words “Adopt Me” printed on the top.
“We definitely plan to start bringing some of the dogs out here on a weekly basis,” Norrell said. “It’s a nice opportunity to get them interacting with the public, and maybe even get a few adopted.”

Norrell added that the park was a nice change of scenery for the animals, which are free to frolic in the fenced-in Bark Park.

Chuck and Margaret Valier were also in attendance on opening day. They had completed their registration, but decided to leave their two mini-Dachshunds at home so they could see the park for themselves first.

The couple said they used to take their pets to a dog park in Arizona, where they have spent their winters. The dogs loved the fresh air and exercise, and the Valiers said they loved bringing home two tired, happy pups at the end of the afternoon.

“We walk them regularly now, but it will be nice to take them here and give them a chance to just run around,” Chuck Valier said. “It saves me a little work having to walk them, too.”

The park will be open all year long from dusk to dawn. Residents will be able to gain entry by using a special keypad code.

The Parks Department began tackling the dog park project in earnest early last year after receiving Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) funds in its 2016 budget. The money was supplemented by private donations from local businesses, and moved forward by Mount Vernon resident Georgia Benton.

Parks and Recreation Director Michael Harshberger said the committee is considering installing benches and other additions down the road. But for now, he is satisfied to see the park finally become a reality.

“I think everything worked out really well,” he said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help and dedication of our volunteers. We’re all proud to make this available to Mount Vernon residents.”

The Parks Department is still accepting registrations for the MV Bark Park. Forms can be found online at the City of Mount Vernon website, on the Parks Facebook page, or at the Parks Office, located in the old Hedges School building (Door 8, 8th Street side). A copy of up-to-date shot records is required.

There is an annual registration fee of $10 for the first dog and $5 for any additional dogs for up to four total dogs per owner. Residents can call 812-838-3691 with any questions.