By Kayla J. Marsh
EATONTOWN – At 80 Acres Park there are a variety of amenities for residents to use, including two baseball fields, a softball field, a utility sporting field, a basketball court, nature trails and a tot play area.
A recent proposal discussed by the borough’s Recreation Advisory Committee and Borough Council could add a new dog agility area to the park, which is located at Industrial Way East and Wall Street.
“Our Eatontown parks, trails and walkways are popular destinations … and we are continually looking to find new program opportunities,” said Janice Grasso, director of the recreation and community services department.
“We want to showcase our park facilities whenever possible by creating outdoor programs, home-based in our different parks.
“Our goal is to present new programs that are rising in popularity throughout New Jersey and the country, as well as showcase programs that currently do not exist in Eatontown or in surrounding communities.”
Dog agility is an athletic activity designed to have pets and their handler’s work together as they make their way through an obstacle course in a specific amount of time.
“We have called this the K-9 Coral, and basically at 80 Acres Park when you first pull in, there’s a large grassy area in front of the restrooms and playground and we’re looking to put a 100-by-100 foot fenced-in area. And the purpose of that area would be to provide an activity space for pet owners and their pets to learn the sport of dog agility,” Grasso said.
“The American Kennel Club, which oversees and monitors all the dog sport activities has curriculums and we would follow their basic curriculum and it would really be a lot fun.”
Grasso said some of the equipment that would go into the space includes jumps and tunnels.
“The biggest cost of this project is the [four-foot chain-linked] fence,” she said.
“It would not be a public dog park where folks can just go in with their dogs and just run free, it will be a supervised activity area and it would operate seasonally and we would figure out a way to structure it.
“We’re trying to set up some sponsorships to pay for the cost of the equipment and the fencing and we would have volunteers who are experienced people who participate in the sport now to host classes, seminars and workshops for the residents of Eatontown to come and attend with their pets and to learn the different parts of agility.”
The initial outlay expense wise for the starting equipment would be $6500 for the fence, the jumps are $50 to $75 each and the tunnel is $200, according to Grasso.
“I would just purchase some jumps and one or two tunnels and I might even be able to get some equipment in decent shape donated or there might be an equipment manufacturer interested in having their name on the jumps or tunnels and donating … but really it is about $7000 to get it started and we have this,” she said.
“It is just a unique opportunity. It’s new and upcoming and throughout the country now there is different clubs and camps that are offering these kinds of activities.
“Last year, American Kennel Club’s statistics showed that there were 3.9 million participants in dog agility activities in the U.S. The year before that, there was 1.9 million … but it is really growing in popularity because it is easy, it’s fun, it’s active and you can do as little or as much as you like.”