Dog park opens in Webster City

The first phase of work in an effort to create a dog park at Sketchley Park in Webster City has been completed.

The park officially opened on Wednesday with collaboration between local students, Eagle Scout candidates and the Webster City Recreation and Public Grounds Department. Plans to create the park began in Patsy Brock’s fifth grade Project Explore class at Webster City Middle School. She said the final project for a creative problem solving unit in the class is to select a school or community problem and solve it.

“This group seemed very adamant that they thought it was important we have a dog park,” Brock said.

At a January meeting of the Webster City Parks and Recreation Commission, those nine students gave a presentation on creating a dog park in town. A while after the meeting, Brock said commission members gave them the go-ahead.

The students worked to put up obstacles for visiting dogs at the park. To obtain those obstacles, they wrote letters to local businesses and citizens asking for donations. Many people helped those students make their dream a reality. Webster City Custom Meats and Mary Ann’s Specialty Products donated plastic barrels. Fort Dodge Kennel Club President Liz Hawkins donated a teeter-totter. Webster City Community Theatre gave them plywood. Brock helped too, donating posts, carpet and supplies.

In addition to donations from many other businesses and individuals, a couple Eagle Scout candidates have worked on the park. Cameron Mitchell’s Eagle Scout project consisted of removing the old sign at Sketchley Park and installing a new informational sign with rules. It also acknowledges those who volunteered and donated for the project.

The obstacles and sign have been placed at the park. Students and other volunteers gathered at the park on Wednesday to mark its opening. However, work is continuing on the project. Eagle Scout Candidate Bryan Johnston is working to install a fence around the dog park. He said it would allow visiting dogs to roam free within the confines of the park. Johnston is also working to install waste receptacles at the dog park.

Johnston has also received donations for the project. That included recycled fencing from Webster City High School. However, donations are still needed to complete the fencing project. Sketchley Park is located next to old Highway 20. Currently, Johnston said dogs have to remain on leashes so they don’t run onto the road or into the nearby woods. Recreation and Public Grounds Director Kent Harfst said those wanting to make a contribution towards the fencing phase of the project can contact him at 832-9193. Future plans for the park might also include separate areas for small and large dogs.

“We’re all really excited to see how it turns out in the near future,” Johnston said.

With a lot of the equipment installed, one of Harfst’s concerns is the problem with vandalism at local parks. He encourages people to call the Webster City Police Department at 832-9166 if they see any vandalism or suspicious activity occurring at the dog park or another park in Webster City.