Thanks to generous donors, Dog Park continues to thrive

Matt Algarin
Taryn Driggers and her 2-year-old dog Dobby, have been enjoying the Destin Dog Park for about a year.

Since a donation box was installed at the Destin Dog Park in February of 2012, patrons have been donating an average of $58.77 per week.

"It's been great," said Nancy Weidenhamer, who along with her team of volunteers was the driving force behind the city's first dog park.

The donation box alone has accounted for $3,702.74 of the $51,546.79, as of Thursday, that has been generously given by dog lovers to help build the park, fund ongoing maintenance, add benches and other amenities.

For Weidenhamer, the park has been a tremendous success for the city, and has become a place where residents and visitors begin as strangers and leave as friends.

"It's so wonderful to see the animals and the people out there," she said.

Fort Walton Beach-based Barton, Fenstermaker, Tondello & Associates, LLC have been regular contributors to the Destin Dog Park, contributing a total of $2,000 (in checks) since 2011.

Barton, who is the president and owner of his company, has been a Destin resident since 1976 and told The Log that donating to the dog park was his way of giving back to the city. Barton donates $250 to the park monthly.

"I'll continue to do so until I can't afford to do it anymore," he said. "The more I get to know people, the more I love dogs."

As the donations continue to stream into the city's award-winning park, Weidenhamer told The Log that there are still more improvements they would like to make to better serve the community — and its dogs of course.

The city is currently working with Gulf Power to address lighting in the park. Weidenhamer said they would like to use bell-shaped fixtures that are identical to those on Commons Drive. She said that Barton's donations are specifically being earmarked for the lighting project.

While they don't want the dog park "to be lit like a football field," Weidenhamer said she wants there to be enough light so visitors can stay later if they want, especially when it gets darker earlier.

Other improvements include additional trees, laying brick pavers in the entrance to the large dog park and adding a second drinking area.

"We keep getting educated as we go," Weidenhamer told The Log. "There are needs and there are wants, and right now we are focusing on the needs."