May 27, 2020

BARK IN THE PARK: MaxYield Donates Land for Belmond Dog Park

MaxYield’s Chad Meyer presents Connie Mattison with the MaxYield land donation deed.

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole,” wrote photographer and writer Roger Caras. Connie Mattison knows it’s true, even though she herself doesn’t have a dog. That’s why she’s part of a committee leading the effort to build a dog park in Belmond—a goal she says wouldn’t be possible without MaxYield Cooperative.

“While Belmond has the Franklin Grove Heritage Trail where you can bike, jog or walk, you can’t let your dog run, since the city has a leash law,” Mattison said. “I saw how people were going out of town to take their dogs to the nearest dog parks in Clear Lake and Waverly.”

Why couldn’t Belmond build its own dog park? Mattison and other community boosters began exploring the idea in the summer of 2018 and proposed the idea to the Belmond City Council, who gave them permission to proceed.

That was the easy part, however. Building a dog park can cost thousands of dollars and requires one key component—land. “We were willing to work hard, volunteer our time, write grants and do whatever it took, since we knew a dog park can be a big asset to Belmond,” said Mattison, who serves on a six-person committee spearheading the project. “Finding land was a big hurdle, though.”

A possible solution was right down the road at MaxYield, which owned 1.5 acres south of Main Street on 5th Street SE, across from the water tower near the Franklin Grove Heritage Trail. Mattison wondered—could this small alfalfa field become Belmond’s dog park? She started making some calls and got connected with the right MaxYield team members.

“We took the idea to the MaxYield board,” said Jeff Marsh, operations team leader at MaxYield Cooperative. “They thought it was a great idea and were more than willing to donate the property for a worthwhile community project like this.”

MaxYield team members also removed some old railroad ties that had been piled on the property, Mattison said. “I had no idea MaxYield was so philanthropic. Our committee is so thankful for the co-op’s generosity. It’s like this project was meant to be.”

Designed for dogs, pleasing people
National surveys show that dog parks are among the most popular amenities a community can offer today. Dog parks give dogs a safe space to exercise and roam freely, plus they give people a chance to get outdoors and exercise with their pet.

According to a 2018 poll conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), 91 percent of Americans believe dog parks provide benefits to the communities they serve. The availability of dog parks is especially popular among Millennials (94 percent) and Gen Xers (92 percent), followed by Baby Boomers (89 percent), who agree dog parks benefit local communities, according to NRPA.

Belmond’s dog park will be divided into one section for large dogs and another section for small dogs. Project leaders continue to raise money through fundraising efforts, grants and donations to install a 6-foot-tall, galvanized chain-link fence around the dog park. Plans are also underway to add a limestone parking lot, a walkway from the trail to the park, water fountains for people and dogs, garbage cans, waste bag dispensers, grass seed, fertilizer and signage listing the sponsors who made the project possible. “MaxYield will be listed first,” Mattison said.

Community support is essential to make the dog park a reality. The chain-link fence alone accounts for nearly $30,000 of this $50,000 project. “We are committed to the success of the dog park,” emphasized Mattison, whose fellow committee members have secured a variety of donations, including park benches from Bayer, trees from Trees Forever, shrubbery from the Iowa Green Trust and a fire hydrant from the City of Belmond.

Cash contributions have come in, as well. In July 2019, the local Fareway grocery store’s “round up” fundraiser, where shoppers could round up their bill to the next dollar, raised more than $2,000. The Sugarpie Bakery & Café in Belmond hosted a “Bark Brunch” one Sunday morning and raised $2,300 for the dog park.

Dog park supporters have also sold merchandise including t-shirts and travel mugs, along with hosting two “doggie dips,” where dog owners can donate money and let their dogs take a swim in the local pool at the end of the swim season.

The committee’s goal is to finish the dog park by late summer of 2020. When completed, the dog park will be maintained by Belmond’s city employees. The committee would eventually like to add agility toys to the dog park to make it even more fun for people’s canine companions.

None of this would be possible without MaxYield’s contribution, Mattison noted.

“They gave us the perfect piece of land in an ideal location. It’s a dream come true.”

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