JACKSON, Mich. — Betty’s Dog Park is close to breaking ground in downtown Jackson at the corner of Van Buren and Blackston streets. At the Friday morning groundbreaking ceremony city officials, residents, and of course their four-legged counterparts came to celebrate. That means a lot to long-time resident Betty Dahlem-Desbians who donated $70,000 to make this become a reality.
“Betty grew up a couple blocks down from here. This neighborhood means a lot to her growing up,” Parks and Recreation Director Kelli Hoover said. “Beech Tree Park itself has gone through a lot of revision here. There was a house here, then a hospital, then an award-winning Beech Tree that died, unfortunately. Now we’re seeing the next facet of what we can do with this park.”
Betty whom the park is named after addressed the crowd thanking everyone “for making my dream come true.”
“Betty has been a huge advocate for this community, for this city, and for some of the work that we’re undertaking. She contacted me and wanted to make this a reality and stepped up to the plate with some funding. God bless her for it because this will be a great opportunity for our furry friends,” Mayor Derek Dobies said.
Hoover says construction will start next week. There will be separate areas for large dogs and small dogs, with benches and tables. The park will be predominantly grass and fenced in. Betty’s Dog Park will abide by city park rules opening at dawn and closing at dusk. Dogs must be up-to-date on their shots as well.
Maintenance crews will complete daily check-ups on the park picking up garbage while also keeping an eye on any upkeep the park may need.
Karen Bunnell is on Jackson City Council and represents Ward 5 where Betty’s Dog Park is located. As she stated, having this dog park be near downtown that is seeing a growing population is another amenity that residents might want.
“We’ve got a lot of residents downtown, and fifth ward, in general, there’s about 3,000 residents. I see people walking their dogs all the time. I have friends who have dogs who say ‘I wish we had a dog park closer to where we live,’” Bunnell said.
Mayor Dobies elaborated that this park is in a prime position to be put to good use.
“We wanted to have more amenities downtown as we look to attract more families down here and as we look to build out housing developments to accommodate for that. Those people who are moving into the city want to have access to local amenities and I think a lot of them are dog friendly. Having Betty’s Dog Park makes an incredible amount of sense,” Dobies said.
According to Hoover, construction should go “fairly swiftly” and wrap up in June. It will be free and open to the public.
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