Several years ago Gloucester residents Mary Lou Maraganis and Judi Masciarelli had the idea to create an open area for dogs to roam free.
Now, after several years of planning and fundraising, that idea will become a reality as what is being billed as Cape Ann's first off-leash dog park is slated to open to the public.
The dog park, which is located in an under-utilized, overgrown section of Stage Fort Park on Hough Street, will have a grand opening on Saturday May 18 at 10 a.m. with a "leash cutting" ceremony, followed by a meet-and-greet with dog trainer Jenny Ford from Friends Again, a local dog training program. Ford will offer advice and suggestions for a successful dog park visit.
The park will have an off-leash area for large dogs, an off-leash area for small dogs under 25 pounds, and a special needs and training area called "Tino's Corner" for dogs not ready for the park and in need of special training and time to adjust.
“After years of fundraising and development, our dream of bringing the first dog park to Cape Ann has finally become a reality,” said Maraganis, co-founder of the Gloucester Dog Park, in a recent statement. “We’re excited to welcome all responsible dog guardians into the park and hope they continue to enjoy it for years to come as a beautiful addition to their community.”
In March of 2011, Maraganis and Masciarelli convinced the city of Gloucester to ante up two acres of land to support their plan. A Friends of Gloucester Dog Park committee formed, helping to map a means to the vision, including ways to raise awareness and the $250,000 needed for the park.
Funds came from private donations around the city, as well as local businesses, who have provided essential elements, ranging from donated land to donated water bubblers and construction materials.
Aiding the early fundraising was a generous direct donation of $20,000 and a challenge grant of $80,000 provided by the Dusky Foundation, named after a Labrador who served as childhood companion of local resident.
Also at the grand opening will be the Cape Ann Animal Aid, which will bring a group of adoptable dogs for residents and visitors alike to meet.
Photographer Lisa Patnaude will be on-site to photograph guardians with their dogs. Complimentary photos can be downloaded from Lisa’s website following the event.
For more information regarding the grand opening, and information about the dog park itself, visit the Friends of Gloucester Dog Park website.