It’s official — the No. 3 and Dyke Roads dog park is now called “No. 3 Road Bark Park.”
Instead of drum rolls, enthusiastic howls filled the air as dozens of Richmondites, two-legged and four-legged, gathered on Saturday morning to celebrate the popular dog park’s reopening and renaming.
The new name is a nod to Bark Park Richmond, a Facebook group created by park regular Judy Hutson to share information and photos about the park. Members of the group have been referring to the park as Bark Park for over a decade.
“Many years ago, probably more than 15 years ago, I started organizing events. And we would have parties down here. And if a dog died, we’d have a memorial celebration,” said Hutson, who has been using the park for almost 25 years.
She decided to create a Facebook group to let people know what was happening at the park, and the community has since grown to close to 1,200 members.
“This park is unique in that we have created this amazing community,” said Hutson, adding that marriages and friendships have started and flourished at the park.
“It’s a great place, a beautiful place to walk your dogs. It’s an amazing place to connect with people that normally you wouldn’t cross over with.”
When the park closed for dike remediation, Hutson said it was “challenging” for the community.
“People that you would see every day and spend sometimes one to two hours with them every day… When the park was being fixed with the dike, we stopped seeing them,” she said.
And now that Bark Park is open again, the community is gradually coming back together.
“When you haven’t seen somebody for two years, there’s lots of hugs and it’s great,” said Hutson.
‘Not a completed project’
According to the city, the reopened Bark Park has over 100 new trees, improved seating areas, refurbished “Dog Party” public art and an obstacle course for dogs.
In his opening remarks, Mayor Malcolm Brodie said Richmond’s extensive network of off-leash areas provides “stimulating opportunities” for around 7,700 licensed dogs in the city to “have a good time to play and to exercise.”
And the city is hoping to make the already-popular Bark Park even better.
“What I want to emphasize to you is this is not a completed project — not yet,” said Brodie. “We’re looking for the input from all of you as to what else you’re looking for.”
Having frequented the park for over two decades, Hutson thinks there are a couple of practical items to add to the list. These include reseeding the grass, leveling the slope for dike remediation to improve accessibility, planting more trees for shade and placing more garbage cans in the park.
She’s also hoping the city will put up better signage to improve safety in the shared park and prevent cyclists, pedestrians and dogs from getting into accidents.
Richmondites are invited to submit their suggestions for trees to be planted at Bark Park through the Let’s Talk Richmond survey, which will close on Oct. 2, 2022.