The City of Melbourne, Florida enjoys a warm sunny climate, 72 miles of coastline, and a multitude of leisure and recreational options. What it didn’t have – until recently –was dog parks.
When a City Councilmember put out a call for help in correcting that problem, the Space Coast Association of REALTORS® responded with boundless volunteer-power and Placemaking Grants from the REALTOR® Party.
Government Affairs Director Tammie Watts credits Paul Alfrey, a retired Melbourne Canine Police Officer who served as Vice Mayor and is the current Mayor, along with John Casey, the former chairman of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Pet Posse committee, with spearheading the effort. Alfrey had noticed the lack of dog parks in sprawling Brevard County. Casey researched best practices and features of 70 dog parks in the state, and together they designed the specialized pooch park to be created within an unused section of an existing city property. When Alfrey publicized the effort on Facebook early in 2019, the REALTORS® responded in a big way. “We had always wanted to find a good project for a Placemaking Grant,” says Watts, “and this was something that everyone could get behind: we had dog-friendly beaches, and dog-friendly restaurants, but really no dog parks at all.” She told Alfrey that not only could the REALTORS®’ Community Outreach Committee provide significant volunteer power to help build the park; they would secure a $5,000 Placemaking Grant from the REALTOR® Party and commit their own funding for the project.
The park includes water features, an agility course, an interactive tunnel system, and plenty of seating and shade for the humans. Its entire design features sustainable materials, from re-purposed tires to recycled plastic and left-over paint, and local businesses, contractors, and Mark Pieloch, a generous private philanthropist, joined the REALTORS® in contributing materials, labor, and funding, so that the construction cost the City nothing. Among other things, the REALTOR® support paid for thirteen colorful Adirondack chairs made by a local plastic recycling company, each bearing a plaque with a prominent REALTOR® “R” and a slogan promoting the value of REALTORS® in the community, from “REALTORS® Help Families Turn Houses into Homes!” to “REALTORS® THE Source of Accurate Real Estate Information.”
The new facility was such a success – with its own active Facebook page! – that early in 2020, Vice Mayor Alfrey launched a second dog park initiative a 25-minute drive from the first. Once again, the REALTORS® joined the cause with a second Placemaking Grant, branded Adirondack chairs, and about a hundred volunteers and REALTORS® in blue “R” t-shirts helping with construction and landscaping. Watts reports that the park’s May 30th opening was attended by numerous elected officials, from the City Council to the State Legislature. “There’s no question that our involvement in these feel-good community projects has raised the REALTOR® profile and strengthened our relationships with our elected representatives,” says Patricia Weeks, President of the association. “The amount of press the park has received has been amazing, and from newspaper articles to Facebook posts, we’re still seeing lots of gratitude for REALTORS®. We’re so grateful to the REALTOR® Party for its support!”
To learn more about how the Space Coast Association of REALTORS® is enhancing its communities with parks for dogs and the humans who love them, contact Government Affairs Director Tammie Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321.508.4291.