It all started in 2018 with a group of people — dog lovers — talking on Facebook about the need for a dog park in York. Their conversation led to the creation of a Facebook group, where additional town residents and visitors voiced their support for the park. A small group of individuals from the group decided to meet and eventually formed a committee and went to work on putting their idea into motion.

Friends of York Dog Park is now a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization comprised of York residents with a mission to develop and maintain a community dog park that provides a safe and controlled environment where dogs and their owners can meet.

The York Board of Selectmen will officially vote on the matter of the dog park in May 2021, a moment the nonprofit organization and its volunteers and supporters have been waiting for since early 2018. The Friends of York Dog Park have approached each step of the process with positivity and a determination to continue moving the project forward, despite some challenges and delays due to COVID-19 and additional factors.

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In January 2019, the group approached the York Board of Selectmen with their idea for a community dog park. In February, York Parks and Recreation and the York Police Department reported their findings from other community dog parks in the area to the York Board of Selectmen, who directed the town manager to move ahead with putting together a committee to start the planning of the park.

The Friends of York Dog Park presented again to the York Board of Selectmen in July 2019 on the pros and cons for potential future dog park locations. The current town property sites near Mackey Skate Park and the Bog Road Recreation Complex fields were explored as potential sites.

After continued property research and ongoing communication with various town officials, on January 27, 2020, the York Board of Selectmen unanimously approved 17 Bog Road (pending all State and Local approvals) as the future location for the Town of York Dog Park.

The Friends of York Dog Park began fundraising in February 2020, beginning with a “Give Back Dinner” hosted by The Blue Bistro Restaurant located at the Beachmere Hotel in Ogunquit. They had a great turnout and were inspired to continue with fundraising efforts.

Courtesy: Pam Lyman
Courtesy: Pam Lyman

The next fundraising event was the “Leap of Kindness Day” at the Greater York Region of Commerce on February 29, followed by a drastic halt in in-person gatherings due to COVID-19 which ultimately put a pause on any in-person fundraising events for the park.

However, the group did continue actively seeking funds through multiple online fundraising efforts via their website, their Facebook page, a GoFundMe account, the Farrah Memorial GoFundMe account (created by local residents in support of the park), the “Got Sneakers?” campaign, a postcard campaign to Kittery residents, donation boxes at various locations around town, a monthly newsletter, “The Dog Logs Digest”, bumper stickers, tee shirts, an Amazon Smile account, a CLYNK account, and the Hannaford Community Matters donation box.

On January 9, 2021, the Friends of York Dog Park held its annual meeting, where the new two-year terms for officers were voted on. They are:

· Chair ­- Stephen Bracciotti

· Vice Chair - Elizabeth Bardwell

· Treasurer - Ann Bassinger Peterson

· Secretary - Jackie Grant

· Director - Dawn Hackett

· Director - Kelli Krohn

“Being the first Chairperson for the York Dog Park was amazing,” Kelli Krohn, York resident, dog lover, and one of two directors on the board of the Friends of York Dog Park, told Seacoast Current. “I handed over the reins to Stephen last month, as we have a two-year term. Stephen is absolutely amazing”

Kelli is also passionate about rescuing dogs. “I rescue because they must at the end know love exists,” she said.

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