BAINBRIDGE — Despite the afternoon heat Saturday, Toby, a beagle and bull dog mix, was totally engrossed in chasing his toy around the dog park at Centerville Mills Park in Bainbridge. The park re-opened that day after grass was replanted in areas that had turned to mud and other improvements were made.
Toby ran across the grass playing with his owners Sarah and Dave Jack. The family drove all the way from Painesville to visit the park. “Someone told us about it,” Mr. Jack said. They were there before it closed and liked it, “And here we are again.”
“We weren’t expecting it to be this nice,” Mrs. Jack said of their first time. “This is nice with two sizes,” she noted of the area fenced off for large dogs and one for the smaller dogs. “We are going to come back.” In the meantime, they were on the way to visit the Art by the Falls event in Chagrin Falls.
The park closed earlier this year because of the problems involving the grass. Work on the park by the Bainbridge service department has included replanting the grass and relocating a water fountain so that it does not drain across the grass.
Longtime dog park supporter Roger Weiss, who with his dog Sunny helped with the establishment of the dog park and its opening in 2018, said he has been sending out emails to all dog park users to let them know the park has re-opened. “They’ve been waiting impatiently.
“I’ve been out checking it two to three times a week. We’re very excited,” Mr. Weiss said of the re-opening of what he has called “doggy heaven.”
“I’ve been out a number of times after it has rained and it drains really well,” Mr. Weiss said. “It’s been very good.”
Before the park had closed in the spring, it was seeing constant use, with 40 to 50 dogs a day, Mr. Weiss said. The groups came in the morning, then around noon, and the largest group was at about 5 p.m. during the work week.
“A lot of people come before dinner,” he said. There are 20 to 30 dogs in that time frame. “The park is very popular. I never expected the traffic. Part of the problem was the wear and tear on the grass.” A heartier turf grass has been planted, he noted.
“It’s good for the dogs to get out and exercise,” Mr. Weiss said.
Bainbridge Service Director Jim Stanek said the improvements have gone well on the park which is located behind the Centerville Mills Park dining hall. “We’ve had outstanding weather to grow grass.” An athletic turf blend was used for the high-traffic areas, he said.
The water fountain for dogs to drink as well as the station to clean them up was moved to the lower level on the western side of the park. Now, he said, “even with all the rain, there is no mud in the park.” Originally, the area was a meadow and it wasn’t really grass, Mr. Stanek noted. “It got really muddy and the water drained right through the park.”
People have been asking about when the park would re-open, he said. “I appreciate their patience and allowing us to make the improvements.”
The park now also includes a concrete walkway to the entrance. Bricks are available for purchase that can be engraved with memorials or honoring of people and animals. So far, 30 have been sold. “I think people will want to be a part of it,” Mr. Stanek said.
There are applications on the township website, at the park, at Bainbridge Town Hall or at the township service building on Haskins Road.
Bainbridge Trustee Jeff Markley designed the walkway and the service department installed it.
“I’ve been told people are really champing at the bit to get in there,” Mr. Markley said. He understand the impatience. Mr. Markley takes his dog, Copper, a redbone coonhound, to the park.
He sees opportunities for expansion including moving the fence at the western end to allow the dogs to splash in the creek that runs through that area. “The dogs could have fun,” Mr. Markley said. One possibility is to hold a fundraiser for more fencing. He would also like to see a pet cemetery there. “That’s in the future,” he said. Right now, everyone will be happy just to get back in to play and romp with their dogs.