Tiffin Bark Park Committee is preparing to "Unleash the Fun" as plans continue on the Tiffin's dog park to be constructed at Hedges-Boyer Park.
Chairman Keith Hodkinson said fundraising support has been "incredible" and the beginning phase of site work already has been completed.
The "Unleash the Fun" theme is intended to get the point across that the dog park is not only for dogs, he said.
Artistic rendition of the Tiffin Bark Park layout provided by Craig Genet with the help of Keith Hodkinson.
"It's more than just a dog park," he said."What some people don't get is this is more than just a place to bring a dog. It's a big, social gathering point."
He expects many local people to enjoy the dog park, but also people from other parts of Ohio and even other states.
"People from all over northern and central Ohio want to bring their dogs," he said.
He said he knows this because he was in contact with people from the Columbus area through a pet store.
"People in the Columbus area are always looking for a place to bring their dogs for a day trip," he said. "While they're here, they eat, they buy gas, they drive through town and they may stop at stores."
He said the project is positive for economic development.
"This is one small facet of the economic development plan that I have," he said. "I think it's important that we bring people here."
In preparation for the dog park, the lower level of Hedges-Boyer Park has been rearranged. A ball field has been moved and the area has been tiled, graded and seeded with new grass.
The dog park is to encompass three acres, but the ball fields in that area also are benefiting from the project to lessen the amount of water that formerly stood in that area after heavy rains.
"Part of the money from the Clive Lupton Fund was used to grade and tile that whole lower end of Hedges-Boyer Park," he said. "There's no grass there at all right now. It's perfectly flat."
Looking from the parking lot, Hodkinson said all the space from the Little League football scoreboard to the right (east) to the treeline, and from the parking lot to the other treeline is to become a dog park.
"Some people thought we were taking part of the Little League football field away," he said. "We are not."
At a bit more than three acres, Hodkinson said the dog park will be the largest in northern Ohio.
It's designed to be bright, colorful and inviting, he said.
"But what sets it apart is the pond," he added.
The centerpiece would be Dog Bone Lake, a 106-foot by 40-foot body of water 3 feet deep where dogs can swim under the watchful eyes of their owners.
The fenced area is to include a quarter-mile walking trail and a "football field" where people can play catch or fetch, throw Frisbees or other activities with their dogs.
The field can be used for hosting events such as dog-training classes.
"It's not a real football field. It just looks like one," he said.
There's an area specifically for small dogs, and recreational-grade agility equipment is to be available for dog training.
"4-H kids can train their dogs on real rec-grade stuff," he said. "And other people can take their dogs there, too, and train them."
Benches are to be placed inside and outside the fence where people can relax.
Hodkinson said the project has received lots of community support and continues to take donations.
"We've had incredible support," he said. "But we need to begin a maintenance fund, also. If there's anything we learned from the (former 1884) courthouse, it's that we need to maintain what we have.
"We've got sponsorships for the pond, the walkway and the football field," he said. "We've also got a number of benches and water fountains that have been donated."
And, of course, cash donations are welcome.
Hodkinson said the fundraisers are making the project possible.
"We are not using one city penny to build this park - not one," he said. "We have formed a non-profit organization."
The next phase of the fundraising process begins in mid-March.
For a $100 donation, a brick paver can be placed at the dog park entrance containing the name of the donor or other wording as requested.
"There will also be opportunities to become members of Friends of the Tiffin Bark Park," he said. Friends are to receive a T-shirt, car sticker, newsletter, and discounts on such items as clothing with logos, dog bandanas.
"Our goal is to raise funds and to promote the dog park and to be good stewards of the money we have received," he said.
While fun and social activities are going to be encouraged, dog owners will have rules they must follow regarding health and clean up after their pets.
"There will be very explicit rules people must follow," he said. "You have to be current on all your shots. No aggressive dogs will be allowed, and owners must stay with their dogs at all times. They can't drop them off and come back later."
Hodkinson invited people to ask him questions by visiting the Tiffin Bark Park Facebook page and leaving a message, or questions may be emailed to keith@senecacounty
More information is available at www.tiffinbarkpark.com.