For all the recent reports on residency rates and renovations across downtown Cleveland, someone’s ultimately bound to ask: “What’s in it for the dogs?” ideastream’s Brian Bull reports on a new fundraiser geared towards giving man’s best friend a place to romp, socialize, and other stuff….
“Let’s go through Playhouse Square,” says Brent Zimmerman, skirting past an idling construction truck. He’s lived in the downtown area since 2005.
His four-legged pal wearing the pink collar with alligators and palm trees? Not so much.
“This is Lily," says Zimmerman, trailing the panting, sniffing dog through an intersection. "Lily’s a five-year-old lab and she’s lived her entire life in downtown Cleveland.”
Zimmerman says he’s excited for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s latest fundraiser. The DCA says it’ll match every dollar raised towards a new dog park, with the ultimate goal of $20,000.
The fenced in park will be in Settler’s Landing, measuring 4500 square feet. It’ll have waste receptacles and benches for humans. Zimmerman says it’ll all help build up the downtown community.
“It’s just another added amenity for people that do have dogs, that want to come and stay in Cleveland and make it their full-time home and not have move out to the suburbs," he explains. "A situation where enough people are happy that all the businesses work, all the restaurants and bars that are opening work, where we just continue to get added amenities…and as the population grows, the people downtown can support those amenities.”
Gina Morris, spokesperson for the DCA, says Zimmerman’s pretty much nailed it.
“The importance of an urban core is really recognizing that it is neighborhood….as we grow our residential population. So these amenities for our residents in downtown, like a dog park, are really critical to continue that growth towards the 20,000 mark that we hope to be at within the next five years.”
Already, there’s an estimated 12,500 people living in Cleveland’s downtown. And with 1,000 registered dogs.
The fundraising campaign launched this week and runs until September 5th. If successful, the park will be built and opened this fall.
Until then, dog owners like Zimmerman just have to keep their pooches satisfied with the existing streets, alleys, and malls….on a tight leash, of course.
“Hey, drop that!" scolds Zimmerman, pulling back on Lily's leash. "That’s the other thing she loves to do, is eat….pick up stuff off the sidewalk…. "
"In this case, somebody’s muffin wrapper!” I reply.
"Yes," sighs Zimmerman.