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Dog playing in park.

Florida REALTORS Help Turn an Empty Lot into a Popular Dog Park

By Tanya Svoboda
March 2021

When the Space Coast Association of REALTORS® heard the City of Melbourne, Florida was looking to create a dog park, they leaped into action. Working in conjunction with the city, the REALTORS® rallied volunteers and funds to help create two public dog parks in the area.

Local REALTORS® heeded the call for assistance from retired Melbourne Canine Police Officer and current Vice Mayor Paul Alfrey in 2019. Their Community Outreach Committee provided crucial volunteer power and a grant from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) provided essential funding.

“We had always wanted to find a good project for a Placemaking Grant,” said Government Affairs Director Tammy 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.”

Mayor John Casey conducted extensive research before beginning the project. He looked at procedures and features of 70 Florida dog parks in order to create the perfect dog-friendly space in an unused section of city property. After a very successful launch, the NAR’s $5,000 Placemaker Grant was used again in 2020 to start a second dog park. The grant money helped to purchase materials and labor for the community project.

Pieloch Dog Park opened in May and has been hailed as the “Disney World of dog parks.” Vice Mayor Paul Alfrey states, “It’s arguably the nicest dog park in the state of Florida.” The park contains a doggy splash pad, a misting fire hydrant, a tunnel system, and a dog fort. Many of the park’s features were built with recycled materials and repurposed structures from old recreational spaces in the city.

What is NAR’s Placemaking Grant?

The Placemaking Grant is available to REALTOR® associations as a way to make their communities better, more vibrant places to live. These grants are available in two levels and will provide up to $5,000 per year to help REALTOR® associations revitalize their communities through the creation of public outdoor spaces.

The grant’s purpose is to turn unused land or community “eyesores” into public spaces that can be enjoyed by everyone. Local REALTORS® who understand the value of community and are already engaged in local programs are often able to take the initiative to complete these important projects.

In Melbourne, city officials recognized a need within the community, and with the help of neighborhood leaders including the Space Coast Association of REALTORS®, they created a special place for all of Melbourne’s residents, even those with four legs.


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