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Potsdam in finals of dog park competition

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POTSDAM - The chance of a new dog park being built in Potsdam is now one step closer to becoming a reality.

The project, spearheaded by Deborah P. Massell, has made it to the finals of the third annual PetSmart.com “Bark for your Park” dog park contest, a competition that awards $100,000 to the winner.

The 15 finalists were announced Friday and online voting to determine the winner is underway.

“There is not really a set space for people to exercise their dogs. Right now, volunteers walk the shelter dogs along the highway,” Humane Society Director Alysia M. Maynard said. “You just get surprised by the community coming through and pulling together for the project.”

Ms. Massell’s request for a letter of support from village officials was approved earlier this month.

The finalists are broken into three groups of five, based on population - small, medium and large. Potsdam is in the small category along with finalists Enfield, N.H., Manassas Park, Va., Tehachapi, Calif., and Waverly, Iowa.

More than 1,400 cities were nominated in this year’s contest and Potsdam garnered 1,861 votes in the preliminary round.

The park will be a safe, fenced area on three acres of land, where dogs and their owners can enjoy walking through the woods and meeting friends. A group of volunteers are working with the Humane Society in development of the park at 17 Madrid Ave. (Route 345).

“We have the land and it is already planned out. The funds are just needed to maintain the project and donations from the shelter aren’t going to maintain the park so it is important to continue voting. I am very optimistic,” Ms. Maynard said. “Deborah was the first one who brought this idea to the shelter, and she is the one spearheading it all.”

The final group of competitors are expected to produce a video supporting their community. The municipality with the most votes will get $100,000 and four runners-up will receive $25,000.

Work has already started to create the space for dogs and their humans. The three-acre lot behind the PHS building has been surveyed by Louis Maine, a surveyor from Potsdam.

Work has also been done by Jeff Hodgson of WagnerHodgson, landscape designers from Burlington, Vt.

Those interested may sign up to “bark for their park” and vote at http://www.petsafe.net/barkforyourpark/city/11944/potsdam-ny/?success=1&;where=vote or at https://www.facebook.com/PetSafeBrand/app_321086731284099.

The 2014 Bark for Your Park voting ends on July 31 and the contest winners will be announced on August 7.

Ms. Maynard reminded voters that they only need to sign up once and are not restricted to one vote per day. She left voters with a simple piece of instructions.

“Vote twice a day,” she said.

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