By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, sporting a pair of oversize scissors, cut a red ribbon March 27 to mark the official opening of the city’s new dog park in Veterans Memorial Park.
Rossi was joined by a contingent of West Haven officials and a small group of residents and furry friends to celebrate the dog park’s opening at 91 Bull Hill Lane.
“As you can see, West Haven is now home to a beautiful dog park that can be enjoyed by residents and their dogs,” Rossi told the socially distanced gathering.
Before cutting the ribbon, Rossi lauded Ernie Chiarelli, the project coordinator and sidewalk inspector for the Department of Public Works, and the many hardworking volunteers, including the Friends of the West Haven Dog Park, who rolled up their sleeves or donated materials to make the park a reality.
“Your combined efforts are much appreciated by myself and the residents of West Haven,” said Rossi, who was accompanied by animal-loving state Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven.
Moments later, Rossi snipped the ribbon to signal the park’s opening, sending the pack of eagerly awaiting dogs of various breeds and sizes — and their equally enthusiastic owners — scampering into the park to run and play.
The park comprises two fenced-in areas with two double gates for large and small dogs. Both areas feature such bells and whistles as running water to quench dogs’ thirst, an old fire hydrant and two tunnels, composed of high-density polyethylene plastic pipes, for them to crawl through.
Borer, who plans to frequent the park with her dog, Eli, is co-sponsoring a new bill that would require the Connecticut Sentencing Commission to review the state’s animal cruelty laws and make recommendations to change any current laws.
Also attending the morning ceremony were City Council Chairman Ronald M. Quagliani, D-at large, and council members Bridgette J. Hoskie, D-1, Peter V. Massaro, D-6, Barry Lee Cohen, R-10, Gary Donovan, D-at large, and Colleen O’Connor, R-at large.
They were joined by City Clerk Patricia C. Horvath, Treasurer Michael P. Last, Tax Collector Dorothy Chambrelli and Friends of the West Haven Dog Park Chairman Dan Potter.
The dog park was moved last year from behind the tennis courts of West Haven High School on Platt Avenue to the larger site of the former playground in Veterans Memorial Park, according to Chiarelli.
Rossi praised West Haven’s General Assembly delegation for securing a Local Capital Improvement Program grant to help fund the new park.
The park property, part of the former federal Nike site, was completely spruced up as well.
Chiarelli said the work included pruning trees, reseeding, and resealing and restriping the parking lot. It also included replacing the old incandescent lamps with new energy-efficient LED lights and reconditioning the existing benches and picnic tables with new wood, he said.
Veterans Memorial Park also houses horseshoe pits, two newly refurbished basketball courts and Veterans Field, the home of the West Haven Seahawks of the Ray Tellier Midget Football League and the Notre Dame High School football, soccer and lacrosse teams.