Pet owners rave about Milford’s expanded dog park

Marilyn Christensen said for many years she has only noticed signs in Milford that say “no dogs allowed,” and she’s been waiting for the city to get more dog friendly.

Now the city has proven that it is dog friendly, in a big way, she said, as her bearded collie, Sambucca, ran and played Friday with more than a dozen other dogs inside the newly expanded and revamped dog park at Eisenhower Park.

“It’s beyond amazing,” Christensen said. “This is beyond dog friendly. So many ‘no dogs allowed signs’ and now Milford has the premiere dog park in the state.”

Mayor Ben Blake, former state Senator Gayle Slossberg, members of the Animal Shelter Commission, and city officials hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting at the Eisenhower Dog Park Friday from 1 to 3 p.m.

The park had been undergoing renovations for about six months, and pet owners were anxiously awaiting the new and improved park.

Those on hand Friday said it was worth the wait. The former park was much smaller, and had drainage and fencing problems.

“I think it’s great,” said resident Joseph Tantimonaco, looking at his dog Elvis, a mixed breed. Tantimonaco said Elvis needs to lose weight, and the sizeable park will help him run off some pounds.

The park is more than an acre of wide open space complete with a water fountain that is designed for people and dogs, waste disposal stations, big rocks for dogs to climb on, lush, green grass, and even a building and overhang that offers shelter from the rain. The building, which is now just being used for storage, will likely be turned into restrooms if the park gets enough use to justify the cost, said Milford Alderman Phil Vetro.

And that’s not all. There is a concrete walkway around the dog park for people who don’t want to get their feet wet in the grass, ample trees, and even a smaller separate area for smaller dogs.

Mayor Blake said the new park cost about $200,000, which was paid for with money the Town of Orange pays for shared animal control services. Orange pays Milford $75,000 a year.

Devine Construction handled the park construction, working with the city’s public works department and the Animal Shelter Commission, including members Susan Stanek and Karen Dorney.

“I think it’s fantastic the amount of space the dogs have to run,” said Dorney. “They’re enjoying the freedom and having a great time.”

The park, with access from West River Street, will be open from dawn until dusk year round for dogs licensed in Milford.

“The Eisenhower Dog Park is a community destination we can all be proud of and I’m thankful to the city employees who worked tirelessly to make this happen,” Blake said. “This park will serve as a gathering place for both two- and four-legged visitors to relax and enjoy the calming backdrop of Eisenhower Park.”

Dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting the park. Park users are also required to clean up after their dog.

Scott Ellingson, Milford Animal Control Officer, stood watching Friday as dogs ran and played in the new park and their owners chatted and admired the new facility.

“I like it,” Ellingson said. “And more importantly, the dogs like it.”