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Dog park ground-breaking brings out pack of furry residents – and owners

More than a dozen dogs showed up with their humans during the official groundbreaking of Lebanon’s new Gillott Dog Park March 7 at Bob Smith Park.

Patrick Schuh, who lives just across the street from the park, was surprised to stumble upon the ceremony when he brought his beagle, Kirby, for a walk. He said Kirby is looking forward to experiencing the new park.

“He’s getting excited,” Schuh said. “This is a long time coming.”

The formation of Lebanon’s first dog park – which is approximately 40,000 square feet (almost one acre) in size – has been in the works since last summer, and is expected to be open to the public in a month or two, depending on weather, said Sally Morgan, dog park committee member.

The idea for a dog park isn’t a new one, but this is the first time someone has stepped in and actually made it happen.

“We’ve been talking about this for five or six years since I’ve been in office,” said Mayor Paul Aziz. “I can’t tell you how many people have asked me when we are getting a dog park.”

It was Warren Beeson, a retired business owner, and long-time Lebanon resident and volunteer, who took the step after seeing several dog parks in Nashville, Tenn. where his two daughters live.

“I saw how heavily used they were, so one time, flying back home, I thought it would be really neat to have one of those in Lebanon,” he said.

His friend, Ronn Passmore, a member of Lebanon’s parks committee, suggested it was possible, but the funds to make it happen were the only hindrance, Beeson said.

Thus, Beeson hand selected Morgan, Bob Gordon, Nancy Chlarson, Mike Farnsworth and Connie Schmidt-Walling to tackle the obstacle because he knew they could make it happen, he said.

“Warren asked me to lunch, which is his way of saying ‘you’re going to work with me,’ and he presented the concept and I just checked in,” Morgan said. “I’ve been a Lebanon resident for 60 years and this is something this town needed.”

Morgan has her own dog, Bailey, whom she would sometimes take to the dog park in Waterloo. Everyone agreed that has been the closest place to let their dog run loose.

“We’d go clear out to Waterloo,” said Lori Hill, who was present for the ceremony. “The community is really excited about the dog park, having a place to bring their dog.”

Hill pointed out that Lebanon didn’t have any safe places to let dogs run loose, and dogs like to have other dogs to play with. Hill has a boxer named Cayenne, but Cayenne wasn’t allowed to go to the park that day.

“She’s a big wiggle worm and she likes to jump all over people when she gets too happy and excited,” Hill said.

Hill is a part of the Laura Gillott Keller-Williams Home Team, which donated $25,000 to help install the fencing. Beeson said that until Gillott stepped in, the fund-raising was “sputtering along” and it looked like it might take at least a good two years to meet their goal.

“One of the most important things in Lebanon, why we’re so successful in all the things we do, is partnerships,” Aziz noted.

He attributed the partnership between the city, the dog park committee, and Laura Gillott for getting this accomplished.

“Thanks again for the committee, the people that stepped up that were just citizens that wanted to do something; that’s the way things get done,” he said.

During the groundbreaking, fence poles were being installed. Ground preparation, gates, benches and other park apparatus’ need to be placed before the public can use the park.

Committee members hope to raise another $15,000 to $20,000 for maintenance and amenities.