Vacaville loses national contest, moves ahead with plans for dog park

Originally published in The Vacaville Reporter on July 31, 2015 By Kimberly Fu.
Vacaville loses national contest, moves ahead with plans for dog park
Somewhere in Vacaville, sad woofs are sounding because five other cities across America snagged major dollars in PetSafe’s “Bark for your Park” contest to go toward building a dog park.
But there’s still a reason to howl — the city will continue its pursuit to build its proposed dog park, as money and land have already been set aside.
“Close, but no biscuit,” shared city Mark Mazzaferro, city spokesman, on Friday afternoon following the announcement. “It’s not for lack of effort. We pushed hard. We put it out on Facebook and Twitter every day. … In the end, we didn’t have enough votes. We are going to move forward with the plans, it’s just going to be slower.”
Community Services Commissioner Jennifer Goode also expressed sadness.
“It’s definitely disappointing given the hard work of all of the volunteers and folks who voted; the good news is that we’re still moving forward with the dog park,” she said and added that there is a town hall meeting at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 22 at the McBride Senior Center.
“We’re super excited about the momentum from the contest and park cleanup, and will be doing more so we can make this park a reality,” Goode said. “(I) Hope folks will join us at the town hall for how to stay involved, more volunteer opportunities and next steps.”
The city had entered the Bark for your Park contest earlier this summer and was ranked among the top 15 finalists in America.
Vacaville faced off against Watkinsville, Ga., Moore, Okla., LaGrange, Ga., and Oswego, Ill., in the large city category. It made a final push in the final weeks of voting with a community clean-up at the site of the new park, in Centennial Park, and dozens showed up to help.
Had it won, Vacaville could have been awarded $25,000 to $100,000 for use toward construction of a dog park.
Jacksonville, Ill., took top honors and $100,000 with 54,727 votes.
Watkinsville won the large city competition with 30,314 votes.
Merrimack, N.H., took the medium category with 16,582.
Fort Gratiot, Mich., won the small city category with 6,166.
As for the city with the most heart, that turned out to be Epworth, Iowa, with 27,689.
The four runners-up each will be rewarded with $25,000.
Despite the loss, officials said the national competition was fun. Now, it’s on to making the city’s dog park happen.
An estimated 1.3 acres have been set aside in Centennial Park, and about $50,000 in funding, for the build.
Plans call for two sections — one for big dogs, one for small ones. Wood chips would soften the dirt padding, making it safer and more comfortable for the dogs using the space. Estimated cost is $95,000.
For more information on the park, visit