Dogged pursuit of park victory for canines

Photo by Ron Leir Consulting engineer Joseph Vuich and Bailey at the dog park groundbreaking ceremony last week.
Photo by Ron Leir
Consulting engineer Joseph Vuich and Bailey at the dog park groundbreaking ceremony last week.



He’s only a 13-year-old Lincoln School biped, but Nate Jablonski, a Star Scout with Troop 305, knows exactly what Kearny’s first off-leash dog park will do for his community.

“I’m real happy. This gives dogs and owners something to bond over. Also, chances are owners will bond with other owners over their mutual love of dogs,” he says.

Nate knows this because he and his brother Ely have bonded with their black Lab, Allie, and anticipate continuing that habit in the new facility on the west side of Passaic Ave., 400 feet south of S. Midland Ave.

Several years in the making, the soon-to-be canine haven where four-legged creatures can run free will be a reality by late spring 2016, said Mayor Alberto Santos, after last Tuesday’s ceremonial groundbreaking.

Reivax Contracting Corp. of Newark will do the job for $300,303 – $175,000 from the county Open Space Trust Fund and the rest from unspent local bond proceeds – in Riverbank Park, just north of the Butterfly Garden.

Nearly 18,000 square-feet of parkland are earmarked for the dog run, with about 10,200 square feet planned for dogs over 35 pounds and about 6,500 square feet for smaller pooches. All dogs will enter a gateway space before being directed to either of the designated off-leash sections.

There will be fountains that dispense water for the dogs and poop disposal bag stations. Eastern walking trail mix and fine stone will form the surface for the dog runs, according to consulting engineer Joseph Vuich of Neglia Engineering, which will receive $26,485 for construction management services related to the dog park.

Not exactly a disinterested party, Vuich is also a canine cuddler. He was accompanied to last week’s event by Bailey, his 2-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a breed that can be traced back to Charles II of the English Restoration. A Hoboken resident, Vuich and Bailey have visited several dog parks in that city.

But for Karen Del, who circulated petitions for a dog park back in 2012, Kearny will be the site of choice for her and Gigi, her 4-year-old Miniature Pinscher she acquired as a “rescue dog” from an Arkansas shelter. She sees the new enterprise as affording an example of “a nice balance between development going on in town and green space.”

How many pet lovers will ultimately bring their dogs to the park is hard to predict, Del said, but, she noted, there are as many as 450 people from Kearny and the outlying area who are members of the “Dog Park for Kearny NJ” website which invites postings about lost dogs, guidance on getting microchips for pets and warnings on suspected harmful pet treats.

Kearny’s Mario Tridente, who will be providing oversight at the dog park as a county building inspector and zoning officer for the Hudson County Planning Division, is likely to give the project close attention as the owner of Sadie, a 3-year-old Irish Wolfhound that commands attention at six feet long and 190 pounds.

Up to now, Tridente said, he’s taken Sadie to Lyndhurst’s dog run, the venue closest to Kearny, “but now, she’ll be closer to home.” Sadie, quite friendly to strangers, gets along fine at the Tridente residence with Bentley, a male Basset Hound, and three kittens.

Another owner, Diane Tilley, said she’ll be visiting the park with her yellow Lab, Coby. Trained as a “therapy dog,” Coby and Diane travel to Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville every Thursday to visit with patients in the mental health and cancer units, as time permits.

Mayor Santos credited Don Gavin, a park supervisor with the town’s Department of Public Works, with having visited “14 or 15” dog parks in the region to offer tips on designing Kearny’s operation.

While having been a supporter of the new enterprise, the mayor admits to being a bit skittish around man’s best friends. When he was only age 2, he said, he was bitten close to his left eye by his own dog, Mero, a German Shepherd.

“I guess you could say I’m careful around dogs,” he said.

But the dogs – all on owners’ leashes – attending last week’s ceremony all seemed friendly enough and allowed themselves to be petted by Santos and other bipeds.

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