Cottage Grove dog park founders named volunteers of the yearEllen Edwards and Dick Swanson put in years of work building support and lobbying local officials for help in creating Cottage Grove’s first dog park.
Ellen Edwards and Dick Swanson put in years of work building support and lobbying local officials for help in creating Cottage Grove’s first dog park.
Their efforts paid off for Cottage Grove canine lovers: WAG Farms Dog Park, named for the Glendenning family who leased the rural acreage for the park, opened to dog owners and their four-legged friends last year.
Now, the pair is being honored for their work by city officials who recently named Edwards and Swanson the city’s 2012 Volunteers of the Year in recognition of their efforts.
“I’m honored and thrilled to be recognized for all the work we put into this project,” Edwards said. “It’s filled up a lot of our free time over the past seven years. So, it’s great to see [the dog park] finally come to life and to be recognized and appreciated for what it’s brought to the city.”
For almost a decade, efforts to create an off-leash dog park in the city went nowhere, with proponents unable to convince Washington County and city officials to tackle the project. That’s where Edwards and Swanson stepped in.
The group started a dog park association to build support for the proposal and formally pitched the idea to the city as early as 2008. In 2010, their efforts paid off: City officials agreed to help the group secure land — eventually achieved with a $1-a-year lease for the 14 acres where area dogs can now run free — and Edwards and Swanson spearheaded fundraising efforts to get the park off the ground.
It opened to the public last spring, a hilly, 14-acre park encircled by roughly 4,000 feet of fencing that features both wide open prairie and wooded trails for canines and owners to roam through, and a gated pond that dogs can take a dip in. There’s also fenced-off area for smaller dogs to play.
The 2012 Volunteers of the Year continue to lead the WAG Farms Dog Park association that shoulders most of the park’s upkeep.
“I think we have a lot of engaged citizens that help the city operate well,” Swanson said.