Raleigh's Dream Dog Park!
Last fall the Millbrook Exchange Dog Park in North Raleigh won a nationwide voting contest sponsored by Purina Beneful and Walmart.com. This Raleigh park was in the running with six other dog parks across the country selected by the dog food company to compete for a dream dog park makeover. Throughout much of the competition, which ran on Twitter and Instagram, Raleigh's Millbrook and Indianapolis' Broad Ripple Dog Park dominated the pack and were neck-and-neck in photo/hashtag votes.
The Triangle's need for this dog park makeover prize became evident during the competition in October when Hurricane Matthew roared across eastern North Carolina. The storm caused significant damage in Millbrook Exchange Park forcing the temporary closure of the dog park due to uprooted trees. Not to be discouraged, Friends of Millbrook Dog Park, a volunteer group of de facto park stewards launched a massive grassroots campaign which pulled the park into first place during the final nail biting days of the contest.
At a ceremony on April 27th with more than fifty community members in attendance, Beneful presented a $30,000 check to Raleigh Parks and Rec at the site of the dream park makeover. Open since 2003, Millbrook is Raleigh's first and oldest dog park, so park goers couldn't be happier with the win.
Since the award ceremony, Raleigh Parks and Rec has hosted several public meetings for dog park users and the public to offer input on what park improvements they would like to see with the Beneful makeover. Interested parties who could not attend these meetings were instructed to email their thoughts to the Design Concept department who would track all input received. After collecting feedback Parks and Rec held a final meeting in late May to present the makeover plan which incorporated many of the ideas offered at the public planning meetings.
The days leading up to the planning meetings were not without some controversy. Dog park users voiced their concerns online and to the City about on-going drainage problems and other park maintenance issues that exist in the dog park. After heavy rains the grounds become a muddy mess making it nearly impossible to use for days. Temporary fixes have been in place but park users want a permanent solution installed by the City. And they do not feel contest funds should be used for deferred maintenance and design problems the City should have addressed long ago. At the final meeting, the Parks and Rec announced they will use other funds to fix drainage issues and improve park safety and functionality. All contest winnings will go toward transforming the dog park into a destination dog owners and the City of Raleigh will be proud of.
The following is a list of items in the City’s plan for the Millbrook makeover:
- Re-surface dog park with triple-shredded mulch
- New picnic tables and benches
- Drinking fountains equipped with outlets for bottle and bucket filling
- New concrete in the park entryway
- Improved park signage making it attractive and visible to park users
- New receptacles for dog waste and other trash
- Fencing improvements including an newly added park entrance and separate area for events and dog parties
- A fire hydrant misting station with dog-friendly push button activation
- A dog dig pit and large shade canopy
- Relocation of existing agility equipment in the large dog area to remove obstacles for running groups of dogs
- In addition to the $30,000 prize award Beneful will gift their iconic Dachshund-shaped agility tunnel which will be installed in the same area as the relocated agility equipment.
The City of Raleigh anticipates ordering the makeover materials over the summer and implementing improvements in the fall. The total value of the Purina Beneful/Walmart prize package is around $41,000. The City stated they will provide labor for renovations with separate funds and will cover any unforeseen expense overruns with monies outside of the Beneful donation.
Dog park users are excited for the makeover to be completed! For the latest updates on the Millbrook Dog Park, join their Facebook group where members share information on daily happenings, keep in touch or just post funny pictures from their trips to the park.
Millbrook Dog Park is located at 1905 Spring Forest Road in the Millbrook Exchange Park in North Raleigh