BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — At times, it has seemed as though the Friends of the Danvers Dog Park has been chasing its tail trying to raise enough to start construction this spring on the town’s first off-leash area at Endicott Park.
Members have raised $26,000 so far, but with a project budget of $54,000, they were beginning to fear they wouldn’t reach their goal in time, said Carla King, president of the group.
“We were pretty hopeless a couple of weeks ago,” King said.
All that has changed, thanks to two significant donations of work, one from the town and one from Mayer Tree Service of Essex. The group now has enough money to build the park, with other amenities to be added later during Phase 2, and construction could begin this spring.
With the town setting aside the land, dog park proponents have been fundraising to build what will be a 1-acre fenced area where dogs can run free. The group has been working since 2009 to create the dog park. In 2011, the town designated a far corner of an overflow parking area at Endicott Park, off Forest and Dean streets, as the site.
Last week, the group revealed that it had secured a commitment by Mayer Tree Service to perform the tree work, a donation worth $9,000. The park straddles a field, some woods and a rock wall, and some trees and a portion of the wall have to be removed to create a path through the woods.
The town has agreed to grade a portion of the site, provide a water line from the children’s play area and supply granite blocks that will serve as benches. The park will be handicapped-accessible and have parking for a dozen cars.
More benches, a line of shrubs around the park’s perimeter fence and a “Circle of Friends” sitting area will come with Phase 2.
“While we still need to raise funds,” King said, “we are closer than ever and plan to start removing trees as soon as we meet with the town and get their approval.”
Key to the project, King said, is the town setting aside land in Endicott Park while also offering to help build it without the need to go to Town Meeting for funds. King said she worked to get an article for money on the Annual Town Meeting warrant, but it will no longer be necessary.
“My staff fully believes the work will be underway within 30 days,” said Town Manager Wayne Marquis, who said creation of the dog park has been a partnership among proponents, the Recreation Department, the Friends of Danvers Recreation and the Historic District Commission, among others.
The town will supply a base layer of material for the parking area and supply granite blocks to be used as benches. The town also will run a trench about 800 feet from Endicott Park’s children’s play area for a seasonal water line. Dog park proponents will supply a water fountain for the dogs.
“By working together,” Marquis said, “we have been able to shave down the budget.”
The Friends of the Danvers Dog Park will hold an “Artful Dogger” fundraiser at the Danvers Art Association on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.