Dogs everywhere are wagging their tails as Yellow Springs entrepreneur and philanthropist David Butcher steps forward to provide the funds needed to take Yellow Springs SMART Dog Park project all the way to the ribbon-cutting. A Village native, he comes from a family with a history of support for important causes. It seems that a giving heart runs in the family. “I learned at a young age about the critical role of generosity in our communities. That lesson continues to be a part of who I am and what I hope to accomplish,” explained Mr. Butcher.
The anticipated cost of the park increased as in-kind donors were forced to focus on Covid impact. Because of that, initial cost estimates grew, and the timeline got longer. “Despite the slowdown, we were able to move forward on the master plan, gather and analyze critical input from the public, create collaborations, finalize management policies, and more,” explained Beth Miller, founder of the nonprofit Wagtown. Ms. Miller was brought in by Village leadership to guide the process with her formidable dog-friendliness expertise. “The project has been fueled by passion, strengthened through input, guided by expertise, and now is ready to take off like a rocket ship. David Butcher has supplied the much-needed fuel to make the unique dog park dream a reality.” While the donation doesn’t cover every penny, it allows the group to move ahead with confidence that they will deliver on the dog-friendly promises to the community.
Known for its celebration of art, equitable environment, and deep personal connections, the town is perfect for innovative thinking, passionate volunteer involvement, creative solutions, and yes – one of the most unique dog park experiences in the country. Working with Wagtown’s SMART Dog Park program, the results will be a true reflection of the community’s culture with an eye on the future of the area. “We have built a community that is ideal for our Village and what we stand for,” explained Richard Lapedes, a long-time supporter of the park and owner of “Betty,” his sweet dog who found the site on a walk with her favorite human. “This dog park will be a treasure to bring together dog lovers from all walks of life. The sense of belonging and celebration of the spirit of our Village is now just around the corner. You’ll find it very soon at the entrance to the Yellow Springs SMART Dog Park!”
Mr. Butcher is providing resources to tackle nearly all of the major installation needs as well as some “wish list” items that appeared in surveys. “I’m very excited about what this will mean for the Village of Yellow Springs. This new play space will be a draw for people who want to see what’s possible for a dog park,” he beamed. “My roots are in my hometown. Like so many in the Village, I take personal pride in helping to add to the special atmosphere here.”
• 2:00 PM EDT
• Location: The Future Yellow Springs Dog Park! (Gaunt Park on the lawn area behind the water towers)
• Meet committee leaders and volunteers
• Find out what’s next in the creation of the Yellow Springs SMART Dog Park
The park is expected to be completed by September. With outside resources, the creation and maintenance of the dog park can honor its commitment to have a very minimal impact on Village services and budget. Johnnie Burns, Director of Village Public Works, is a valuable partner as he guides decisions that will benefit the project without unduly impacting his team.
The dog park team has just announced the first opportunities to get involved in the adventure. After a lively Zoom meeting filled with excited dog owners (and non-dog owners), plans were announced for the first fundraising event, board positions were made available, and committees that will bring fun and fluff to life in Yellow Springs were kicked off. Enthusiasm was clear as the volunteers signed up to be a part of a new era in the Village and donors clicked to contribute. In addition to accepting board nominations for the upcoming Friends of the Dog Park group, fun teams like Groundbreakers, Brew Crew, SMART Squad, Poop Pride Patrol, and Waggers are looking for volunteers.
Contributing to the project was a perfect fit for the philanthropist. David and his partner, Rachel Hammond, drew inspiration from their rescue dog, Luna, to help bring the project to life. In addition to David’s generosity, he is enthusiastically rolling up his sleeves to help where needed. He plans to serve on the board of the park’s support association and is now reaching out to other community partners and business owners for additional support.
Miller explained that the impact of dog-friendliness was evident in many of the cities that she visited in Wagtown’s nonprofit’s research phase. “The phenomenon’s impact is undeniable. Regionally vibrant cities continue to benefit from the correlation. We love to see that happening, but progress toward dog-friendliness needs to be authentic, responsible, and powered by expertise. That’s where Wagtown can help,” stated Ms. Miller. America is becoming increasingly dog friendly, and it appears that the Yellow Springs area is no exception.
CLICK TO WWW.WAGTOWN.ORG/ITSTIME