Harrison Teen Leads The Way In Public Project

R.J. Suhre is working with town leaders to build a public dog park in Harrison

A dog park is coming to Harrison and it's not the work of any corporations or councils, but a local teen.

Not many teenagers attend town board meetings, budget major projects or organize the construction of public facilities.  But R.J. Suhre, 17, did do all of those things in hopes of advancing to the highest ranking level within the Boy Scouts.

In order to make the transition from Life Scout to Eagle Scout, R.J. must be a leader in a project that improves his community, and it must be complete by his 18th birthday in March. For that reason he has been working since last spring to build a public dog park near the veteran's park on Chrystal Street.

"It has been a challenge," R.J. said. "But I overcame the different tasks."

Planning for the project spanned an entire summer.  According to R.J., four different sites have been discussed and numerous budgets for the project have been considered, ranging from $8,000 to $25,000.  He is currently working with the ladder budget after a privately pledged donation was finalized.  Although almost all of the funding for the dog park will come from private donations, R.J., also needed the Harrison Town Board to approve the project.

"I learned how government works," R.J. said.  "It takes a while for anything to really get done."

But he did get it done, working with Town and Village Engineer Robert Wasp, R.J. created a proposal that was approved by the board on Dec. 7.

"I was releaved when it was approved," R.J. said.  "I am a dog lover myself and I thought it was something the town needed."

Since the approval, work is already being done to flatten the area that will become the new dog park.  An access path leading to the new site has also been created, leading to what will soon be public place for dogs to roam free from their owner's leashes.

According to Wasp, the town will have no financial association with the project, but he will monitor the dog park throughout its construction.

"We will just keep an eye on it," said Wasp, adding that for the most part that means making sure that things like benches and fencing aesthetically match the nearby public park.

If all goes according to plan, the new park will provide a flat, grassy, fenced area for the dogs residents by this spring.  There will be two seperate sections for large and small dogs.

"People will grow as friends," R.J. said.  "And the dogs will have a lot of fun."



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