The long-awaited dog park at EPCAL in Calverton opened Saturday morning to the happy pants of about 50 dogs as the gate to the park was “unleashed.”
Jerry Bilinski of Riverhead was one of the first to arrive with his three rescue dogs: Petey, 5, a Chihuahua; Ozzie, 13, a Cock-a-poo; and Lucy, 3, a Maltese/Yorkie. Mr. Bilinski said he thought the dog park was long overdue for the community.
“Having lived part of the time in the city, as well as out here, we got to appreciate the way dog parks help socialize dogs and become a community meeting place for people,” he said. “We have this fence mentality for dogs here on Long Island, which creates a lack of socialism. Dogs are social animals. Dog parks are a place where dogs learn to play and hopefully become better behaved.”
The dog park is free for now and open from 8 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week.
The park has been in the works since March, planned by Councilman Jim Wooten, with the help of Denise Lucas of the non-profit group “Move the Animal Shelter” or M.T.A.S.. The town contributed $10,000 toward improvements of the infrastructure of the property with the help of the Town Highway department and Buildings and Grounds. Ms. Lucas’ group provided $14,000 for the fencing, signage, picnic tables, benches and dog poop-bag dispensers.
The owner of National Outdoor Furniture company, Deron Nakamura of Riverhead, gave a 25 percent discount on the furniture for the park. Mr. Wooten called it “truly a community partnership.”
Legislator Ed Romaine said: “If you get into politics and you want a friend — get a dog.” He’s has five.
The park is named “Isaac Park” after a 2-year-old Golden Doodle who belongs to Margaret Savercol and Lewis Topper of Mattituck. They met Ms. Lucas at a fundraiser for North Fork Animal Welfare at the Riverhead Project.
“We were excited to help her and were inspired by her enthusiasm and vision to create the dog park and a dog shelter that is in need of a lot of love,” Ms. Savercol said. “With this it is a great grass roots project.”
Ms. Lucas is continuing to hold fundraisers for M.T.A.S.. The new shelter plan is 100 by 120 feet, designed by local contractor Richie Cox, and will be able to house 40 dogs and 40 cats. She hopes the town will move forward and make plans to locate it near the dog park at EPCAL. She said the costs have been broken down and right now she has enough money for the plans and foundation. She still needs to raise $332,000. The next fundraiser is Friday night at Finnegans Wake bar in South Jamesport with Fred McLaughlin as the guest bartender. He is also the vice president of her organization.
According to Recreation Department director Ray Coyne and Mr. Wooten, a second, smaller dog park is already planned for Stotzky Park near field 6, the t-ball field, which they hope to have under construction this fall. Other plans for Isaac Park is the installation of a well for water at the park and irrigation for the softball fields by next spring. Tennis, handball and beach volleyball courts are also planned for the future.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Mike Prestano with his dog Moxie, 3, who was rescued from the Riverhead Town Shelter. He said she is a little aggressive and he was trying to get her acclaimated to people and other dogs. “This dog park will help her,” he said.