May 25, 2018
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Bangor’s first dog park nearing reality

By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Thanks to efforts of some dedicated canine lovers, a proposed Bangor dog park may have found a good home.

Bangor’s first dog park took a major step toward historic reality Tuesday as project representatives briefed supportive Bangor City Councilors on the blueprint and location for Bangor’s first-ever dog park.

After initially focusing on “the roundhouse” land parcel at the end of Dutton Street and behind Hollywood Casino and Geaghan’s Restaurant and Pub, city staff members and park project members settled on Essex Woods off Essex Street.

“Originally we identified the roundhouse spot, but it became clear that it’s more a development piece that can be sold, so we altered our focus,” said Tracy Willette, Bangor Parks and Recreation Department Director.

Ironically, what could have been a hindrance for the project became a help.

“I think this has been in the works since late 2009. I only came on about six months ago,” said Chris Nill, the 12-member dog park group’s communications liaison. “Once we moved to Essex Street Woods, it got the ball rolling, and now it’s going a lot faster.”

Nill said the park will be divided into three separated parks.

“There will be a large one which will encompass most of the forest to the left of the PAL building and alongside one of the main hiking trails,” Nill explained. “There will also be a smaller park for smaller dogs where the old ice skating rink used to be near the front of the PAL building.”

The park will be open year-round and privately funded by donors. Park project members will provide regular maintenance and upkeep, including the provision of trash cans and benches.

“The model for this is a lot like the one we had years ago with the skate park and the Paul Bunyan restoration with those who have a particular interest in a project,” said Willette. “In this case, they’ll be fundraising and working with us to establish rules and guidelines as well as helping us to administer and maintain the park.”

The city will likely handle grading work on the grounds and possibly remove some trees due to overgrowth.

So far, there have been few complications beyond the park’s location switch.

“There was one concern with part of the training yard impeding one of the trails and we don’t want to impede anything, so we gave the committee three options to locate it elsewhere,” said Nill.

Nill’s wife Megan said the group has invited input from and actively involved the public.

“As of this afternoon, we have 509 ‘likes’ on our Facebook page, and we have around 100 or so email addresses for people who want to be involved or notified,” said Megan Nill. “And not all of them, or even everyone in our group owns a dog.”

The park is envisioned as a safe place for dogs to play and enjoy leash-free time with their owners and other dogs.

She said the group will even hold a public meeting so anyone from Bangor and surrounding towns can weigh in on and find out more about the park.

Anyone wishing to contact park project representatives, join the effort, or find out information can call the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department at 992-4490, email them at, visit the group’s site online, or find Bangor Dog Park on Facebook.

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