New dog park opens in Little Creek

Third district Levy Court commissioner Allen Angel, at-large commissioner Terry Pepper and Little Creek Mayor Glenn Gauvry met residents at the freshly-completed dog park in Little Creek for its grand opening on Saturday morning.
(Delaware State News/Ian Gronau)

LITTLE CREEK — Despite the snowfall and near freezing temperatures, Little Creek town officials and Kent County Levy Court commissioners held the grand opening of the town’s new dog park on Saturday morning.

Sitting on about 1.6 acres adjacent to the Little Creek Post Office, the dog park features separate fenced areas for small dogs and large dogs to roam off-leash. The park also contains benches, trash cans and will soon have drinking fountains (installed by the Little Creek Fire Company). Little Creek Mayor Glenn Gauvry noted that although the park is now open, the project won’t likely be fully complete until the end of the month.

Back in June 2017, Kent County Levy Court awarded the Town of Little Creek a $35,000 Community Projects Assistance Grant to help cover the costs of construction and brush clearing on the plot of land. The community assistance fund is funded annually with the real estate transfer tax.

Third district Levy Court commissioner Allen Angel and at-large commissioner Terry Pepper were on hand to laud the project’s success.

“Everyone was able to do more with fewer resources because we worked together,” said Mr. Pepper. “The county probably would have never bought a piece of land like this to put a dog park in, but because Little Creek came to us with the idea and were willing to furnish the land, labor and organization, we were able to provide the funds. It turned out to be a great partnership.”

Last spring, Mayor Gauvry met with Levy Court Commissioners to propose the concept of having the dog park on town-owned land. Mr. Angel feels that when the county partners with local municipalities, it can spur regrowth and be a boon for economic activity.

“The historic portion of Little Creek goes back to the ’40s when it was the oyster capital of the world,” he said. “Disease killed off a lot of the oyster bed which damaged that economic activity, and it’s taken some time to come back from that. Anything we can do to enhance a community and start bringing people back in is great, because it get ideas flowing and boosts interest in investing.”

Mayor Guarvy said that even though the park just opened, residents have been rallying around the idea for months. A “friends of the dog park” group was established to be responsible for maintaining the park after funds were received from the county. The group, starting with only three members, has since ballooned to almost 20 participants, said the mayor.

“We just recently had someone from the nearby Topknot Canine Center — a dog grooming and training business — join the group too,” he said. “We’re hoping to attract community involvement and get things like dog training classes here. We think this can be a seed that grows into something that drives more resident participation, rather than just some place people bring their dogs. It has a lot of potential to be a community building vehicle.”

Kent County’s Tidbury Park on State Street in Dover was built for $22,481 back in 2008. According to Kent County Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Michael Rigby, the purchase included a well, pumps, fencing, concrete, signage, trees, benches, grass seed, fertilizer and lumber. Since then, the park has seen continuous and sustained use, said Mr. Rigby.

The commissioners and mayor feel that the dog park, in combination with a DNREC-led project to build a fishing pier and boat dock on the Little River, may herald new opportunities for the commercially vacant town of Little Creek.

“We’ve been trying to get behind all sorts of ideas,” said Mr. Angel. “We’ve talked to the mayor and DNREC, suggesting things like holding a regatta boat race from Leipsic to Bowers with Little Creek as its center — even trying to rebuild the old Port Mahon lighthouse back up as a point of interest on the Delaware Bayshore Byway.”

Mr. Pepper encourages other small towns to approach the Levy Court with community-building project ideas.

“We’re always looking for partnerships like this, anything that makes the community a better place and brings people together,” he said. “Between this park and the docks coming up on the south part of town, I feel like people will start to see that Little Creek is worth looking into.”

As the first dogs began relieving themselves at the park on Saturday morning, officials cheered that it had officially been “christened.”

The handicap-accessible park is now open to the public free of charge.

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