Written by Tammie Watts, Government Affairs Director, Space Coast Association of REALTORS®
It may be hard to envision the value NAR’s Placemaking grants have within a community if one has never seen the final product come to life. In Brevard County, we were able to witness first-hand just what a difference these grants can make. We watched as a sprawling plot of land came to life and was transformed into a robust space peppered with prancing dogs, smiling children, and happy pet owners.
South Melbourne’s first dog park had humble beginnings. A true community effort, Pieloch Dog Park was first envisioned by Melbourne Councilman Paul Alfrey who enlisted local partners to raise funds for its creation. Councilman Alfrey contacted the Space Coast Association of REALTORS® about the park building project. The Association felt this was a perfect opportunity for an NAR’s Placemaking Grant, which funds the creation of public spaces and destinations in a community. Other partners who helped build the park from the ground up were the City of Melbourne, the American Muscle Car Museum, Hydro Plumbing, D Bell General Contracting, Lowe’s, and Alfrey Roofing.
The build took place from April 1 through April 12. When the project began, a bare piece of land stood where a communal area now exists. More than 100 volunteers from our community assembled to help install fencing, paint, plant trees, lay sod and rock, and build the agility course in two days. Ten live oak trees were planted to provide ample shade. In addition, four benches with sun sail shades were placed in the large dog section and two more were installed in the small dog section. The dog park offers custom fire hydrant water features and an agility course. A pavilion was assembled in each area, as well as dog wash areas and misting stations to cool furry friends down.
The Placemaking grant was used to purchase 13 multi-colored Adirondack chairs made from recycled materials and four trees to help with beautification efforts. Each chair bears the Association’s name on it and an advocacy or community quote on the plaque.
The Pieloch Dog Park ribbon cutting ceremony was held on April 13 and was followed by a reception for volunteers and sponsors on April 14 at the American Muscle Car Museum in Melbourne. On opening day, there were more than 60 dogs in the large dog area and more than 20 in the small dog area, and only a few growls took place, which could be construed as evidence of just how much fun they were having in their new park.
Pieloch Dog Park welcomes community members and their four-legged friends to enjoy the great outdoors, making it just the sort of thing the Placemaking grant is intended to help create. The Placemaking grant did everything it is intended to and more. The Association received a lot of appreciation on social media and in the newspapers. There are 13 plaques within Pieloch Dog Park that bear our name and they are permanent fixtures. The ribbon cutting was very well attended by city, county, and state officials who gathered to take in the project’s culmination. Most importantly, this effort brought the community together as the grant intends.
Through the infusion of funds and the work of dedicated volunteers, Pieloch Dog Park is the nicest one in the state of Florida with pools and agility courses just for man’s best friend. Melbourne now has a destination where neighborhood dogs can socialize with others, run off leash, and just be dogs.
There are already discussions about building more of these parks in Brevard county. We look forward to being a part of these future endeavors and serving our community in this unique facet.
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