Neighbors raise money to build new dog park in Norfolk

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A new dog park is one step closer to opening in Meadowbrook after a two-year grassroots effort by neighbors.

In 2015, the city closed the longstanding park at the former Meadowbrook School to make way for a new fire station near Hampton Boulevard and Little Creek Road.

Over the years, the park had become an unofficial dog park for dozens of canines living nearby.

“When we knew we were going to lose the park, we actually started making noise then,” said Elaine Dawson, a member of the newly-formed Meadowbrook Dog Park Association (MDPA). “I think we felt a sense of loss or potential loss of the community and the friends.”

Dawson and others involved in the nonprofit petitioned the Meadowbrook Civic League and city officials to support a new park. The city ultimately carved out about one acre for a dog park, but the neighbors were tasked with raising roughly $26,000 for a fence.

In just six weeks, the MDPA raised about $34,000, according to Dawson. More than 70 neighbors and businesses contributed, including Friendship Veterinary Hospital’s donation for $4,000.

“It gets people out of the house and visiting with each other, socializing and giving them something to do, said Dr. Denise Cisco, who’s owned the animal hospital for 25 years. “Friendships are made. The dogs play … It makes them better pets. It makes them healthier pets just like us.”

The city’s plan includes moving the aging Fire Station 12 across the street to a new facility and allocated roughly two acres of public park and green space, including a playground and basketball court.

Dog owners say their sense of loss has turned into a sense of hope for the future of the community.

“A lot of people haven’t seen each other since the park closed and we’re looking forward to getting back together and bringing the animals back together again,” said Dawson. “It’s definitely going to be a neighborhood park and the hope is everyone will come and use it.”

The city council still needs to accept the MDPA’s donation. If that happens, the city says the dog park should be complete around the same time as Fire Station 12 in late spring.

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