In the near future East Palmer Street will see a new dog park right next to Shissler Recreation Center. Dog owners in Fishtown consider this new facility “a welcome addition.”
Volunteers gathered recently to plant trees, lay woodchips and construct benches to further the progress need to complete the park. Among those who volunteered were dog owners, residents of the neighborhood as well as members of the New Kensington Community Development Corp.
The dog park was a project that had been discussed for years. The Fishtown Neighbors Association and the New Kensington Community Development Corp. originally introduced a plan in 2011. Though the project was met with a lot of support it took a while to gather all element required to make the plan a reality.
“The maintenance of the park will be controlled by volunteers mostly,” Diana Jih, community relations specialist for the New Kensington Community Development Corp., said. “It is key that this dog park be properly put together and maintained so that it exemplifies the beauty of the neighborhood.”
Jih referred to the park, located at approximately 47 E. Palmer St., as a “work in progress” which will provide a new place for the dog owners of Fishtown, Kensington and Port Richmond to take their pets.
Fishtown does have a few parks of its own. Right down the street, on the corner of Frankford Avenue and East Palmer Street, is Palmer Park which had been a popular place to walk and play with dogs. Palmer Park remained a significant park to owners due to its location and easy accessibility within walking distance.
Perhaps the most popular park in the neighborhood is Penn Treaty Park, located on North Beach Street next to the Sugarhouse Casino. The large grassy areas and ability to let dogs off their leashes were two reasons for the park’s popularity. But its location for residents living on the other side of Girard Avenue proved to be an issue.
“Penn Treaty Park is an excellent place to take your dog to,” Fishtown resident Maggie Schultz said. “You have to drive there though. It’s not a terrible drive or anything but to take my dog to a park within walking distance is way more convenient.”
Dave Jansken, a longtime dog owner, said, “It’s great that there is going to be another park here. You see a lot of people walking their dogs throughout the streets. It’s great that there will be more places to actually take them to.”
The New Kensington Community Development Corp. organized a Big Green Block Volunteer cleanup of Fishtown in conjunction with Earth Day Monday which included work on the new dog park. Many volunteers were dedicated to establishing an attractive, clean park to add to the recent development of the area.
Though residents were excited about the new park some wondered if the park could be properly maintained.
“Palmer [Park] is maintained well, but you still see trash pile up at times and the doggy bag dispensers are empty quite a bit,” Jansken said. “If people don’t volunteer their time this new park could be trashed quick and not properly cleaned up.”
This is a problem that Jih and the organization hope to avoid through keeping up with the park themselves while working with local volunteers. “We look to further the beautification of this area and the park will be a big part of that,” Jih said.
Significant progress was made on the park through the cleanup. An exact date has not been set for the opening of the park but Jih’s organization has hope that it will be ready before summer.