NAPLES — Mounds of mulch, piles of dirt and a trailer full of stone sit where dogs will soon prowl as construction of the Naples dog park nears completion.
The park is scheduled to open by the end of February, city officials reported.
Meanwhile, pets of all types can pounce on Third Street South this Sunday as fundraisers, including the 3rd Annual Pets on Third event, are to ensure that the off-leash dog park will operate without tax dollars or users fees.
The park nabbed Naples City Council’s unanimous approval in September on the condition that no tax dollars would be needed and that the city-owned land could be used for other purposes should they deem the park unsuccessful.
Finances are on track as nearly $250,000, the approximate amount needed to build the park, has been collected, said Dave Lykins, director of Naples community services.
“The project has great public support. If this level of private financial support continues, a user fee will be unnecessary,” Lykins said.
This is the first year that the pet parade and costume contest will benefit the new City of Naples Dog Park, dubbed Central Bark by its supporters, said event organizer Jody Rosenbaum. The event previously supported the Collier Spay Neuter Clinic.
As contestants are putting the finishing touches on their costumes, Naples architect Matthew Kragh, who Lykins said has spent a great deal of time with the dog park’s design, volunteer efforts and concept — more than almost anyone — is organizing finishing touches on the park.
The park, which is located in the city’s Government Services Complex on Goodlette-Frank Road across from Central Avenue, now has its main shade structure in place.
The perimeter fencing for the small and large dog areas are also complete.
The wash area remains under construction and after irrigation installation is complete, landscaping will be added, Lykins reported. Water fountains, benches and picnic tables, which come with naming rights, are arriving, he said.
There is no individual firm creating the site, although Kraugh, president of MHK Architecture and Planning in Naples, is leading the efforts.
Several other Collier County firms are participating with some of their work being donated, Lykins said.
City officials and artists will be among those donating to the park and the pet event on Sunday.
Mayor Bill Barnett, the Grand Marshall, is to lead the parade around the block at 1 p.m. and WGUF radio host Bob Hardenby will be the emcee.
This year’s theme is “pets in paradise,” and, although theme costumes are encouraged, they are not required, organizers said. Contestant registration is $20.
Barnett will be among the judges eying the costumes at the noon check-in, which takes place in the parking lot on 13th Avenue South between 3rd Street South and 2nd Street South.
There will be one winner in each of four categories vying for a pet portrait by artist Michele Kortbawi Wilk. There is to be a winner for most original; best theme; best dog and owner costumes and best dog and owner look-alike costumes.
Four fire hydrants painted by artists Phil Fisher, Po Flanagan, Jaquee Krause and Kortbawi Wilk will debut with an auction yet to be scheduled for the spring, organizers said.
Pets, merchandise and services will also be for sale at the event.