Long-awaited park opens to yips and yelps of joy

Long-awaited park opens to yips and yelps of joy
Riverside Avondale Preservation Board Chair Keith Holt, Executive Director Adrienne Burke, Trey Csar, project organizer for the John Gorrie Dog Park

Contrary to the dreary weather, which threatened the Jan. 22, 2016 groundbreaking, The John Gorrie Dog Park at Riverside Park officially opened on a sunny day nearly eight months later to loud cheers of “Open the park” from owners of dozens of dogs of all sizes.

During the Sept. 17 ceremony in the acre-and-a-half park, the large-dog area was thoroughly examined by canines chasing balls while smaller pups chased each other in the small-dog area. “It’s so heartwarming to see so many people and so many dogs having so much fun here at this great park,” said District 14 Councilman Jim Love. Created as a public-private partnership, the new “park within a park” should comfortably accommodate a couple hundred dogs at a time.

Maggie Caron and Corey

Maggie Caron and Corey

Speakers at the grand opening included Trey Csar, Riverside resident, and park project organizer; Keith Holt, Riverside Avondale Preservation Board chair, and Councilman Love. Over three dozen sponsors were acknowledged for their financial contributions which funded the $300,000 park, and accolades were given to Kay Ehas, Carmen Godwin, Csar and Holt for keeping the project going from its conception six years ago.

“This park started as an idea when my wife and I walked [our dog] Friday from about three blocks down the street every weekend to the Riverside Arts Market,” said Csar. “A group of community members got together and said ‘What if we can take it and turn it into an asset for our community and make a place not just for dogs but for people and community?’”

The off-leash dog park is well-lit, with benches and three-level water fountains, and is enclosed by decorative fencing with double-gated entries into each dog play area. The park was constructed by Riverside-based company Hager Construction, and the fencing was erected by Newsome Fence. The land for the park was formerly used by the Florida Department of Transportation as a construction equipment storage yard.

Personalized pavers commemorating dogs, cats and their humans were laid in the new entryway from College Street, and there are spaces available to accommodate more. Pavers may be purchased through RAP ([email protected] or (904) 389-2449), which will schedule several installations throughout the year.

Adrienne Burke, RAP executive director, announced the creation of Friends of The John Gorrie Dog Park. Although the park falls under the care of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, the volunteer group will conduct periodic clean-ups.


By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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