My community is not in Massachusetts. Is my community eligible for any funding?

At this time, the Foundation's dog park program is limited to communities in Massachusetts.

There seem to be three types of grants. Can I apply for design, construction or capital improvement grants individually?

No, all three grants are included in the program. The parks program is designed to take a community from start to finish on a dog recreational space while subsidizing the early costs of design and construction. By applying for a grant, towns are committing to the entire process with the Foundation as a partner.

What is the optimal size of a dog park?

The best dog parks are those that find a balance between space for exercise while maintaining social responsibility. Large breed dogs should have a large enough space to run without adversely impacting other dogs and owners. Communities should also consider that as parks grow larger, annual maintenance costs increase. Cities and towns should think about what level of financial commitment they are willing to devote to the upkeep of the space annually.

What is the best surface for a dog park?

The Stanton Foundation does not advocate a particular surfacing material. We encourage towns to create a park that best fits community needs and aesthetics. Again, considerations of annual maintenance should be considered when deciding on a surface type.

What is the average cost of a dog park?

Costs vary considerably across the state. The Foundation will consider proposals up to $250,000 in construction costs.

May a town act as its own general contractor in construction of the park?

The Foundation generally encourages towns to use outside contractors. Requests that the town be permitted to act as the general contractor will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Early consultation with the Foundation is critical if the town wishes to pursue this option.

Our local dog group is interested in applying to have a dog park in town, how can we apply?

In order to apply for the grant program, the Foundation must be contacted by a member of town or city government responsible for projects associated with recreation or facilities management. The Foundation uses the municipality as our partner to ensure transparency and long term fiscal accountability.

I want to apply for a design grant. What should I put in my preliminary budget?

While each park is unique, the Foundation has developed a list of items for communities to consider as they draft preliminary budgets. That list is available on the Resources page.

I noticed that the preliminary budget should include "hard construction costs." What does that mean?

"Hard construction costs" means labor and materials. It does not include overhead, insurance, bond, contingency funds, or other miscellaneous line items.

Should I include a design estimate in my preliminary budget?

No. The Foundation will determine the amount of each community's design grant by calculating 10% of the hard construction costs included in the preliminary budget. There is no need for the community to estimate design costs.

Are there any costs for which grant funds may not be used and should be excluded from (or delineated separately in) my preliminary budget?

Grant funds are intended to cover most (if not all) of the costs associated with design and 90% of the hard construction costs (i.e. labor and materials). As such, the community is responsible for costs associated with readying a parcel for a park and "soft" construction costs. Specifically, the community is responsible for: securing ownership of the parcel; extending a water line to the parcel; bond; overhead; contingencies; insurance; and other miscellaneous "soft" expenses. Additionally, grant funds may not be used to purchase designated agility or play structures (e.g. hoops, rings, crawl-throughs), but may be used to purchase natural play elements (e.g. boulders, tree stumps).

I noticed that my community must contribute 10% of the hard construction costs of the project. May this be done through in-kind services?

No, the 10% community match must be made in cash, not in-kind services.

I'd like to make the dog park into a picnic area. Is this a good idea?

The Foundation answers each question by asking "what is good for the dog?" Because some dogs are food aggressive, and because picnicking encourages passive dog monitoring, the Foundation does not believe it is in dogs' best interest to create a picnic area within or immediately adjacent the park. As such, grant funds may not be used to purchase, build, or install picnic tables or refreshment stands.

My community would like to fence in a wooded area to create a natural dog space. Can grant funds be used to create such a park?

For many reasons, the Foundation does not financially support the creation of such a park. First, we understand that diligent maintenance is crucial for park success, and that the self-policing that goes on in a traditional dog space to ensure that users clean up after their dogs would be more difficult to execute in a wooded space. Trees and other growth in a natural space may hinder an owner's ability to effectively monitor their dog's play, potentially creating a hazardous situation. Finally, a natural space is difficult to make ADA compliant.

What is the Foundation's policy on potable water and bringing water to the park?

The Foundation requires that potable water be available at the dog park. Although it is the community's financial responsibility to extend a water line to the dog park, grant funds may be used to tap into the water line, extend it to the park's surface, and to purchase human/dog or dog water fountain(s). Stated differently, grant funds may be used to accommodate vertical extension, but not horizontal extension.

What does the application process look like from start to finish?

A community should compile the documents described on the Obtaining a Design Grant page and email or mail the documents to the Foundation's Program Officer. The Program Officer will contact the community to answer any questions or address any concerns as quickly as possible. Once a final version of the application is submitted and approved, design grant funds will be disbursed.

Thereafter, the community enters the "design phase" and must report updates to the Foundation's Program Officer monthly. Once bid documents are developed, the community must submit them to the Foundation for its review. Once the Foundation has reviewed and approved the bid documents (which may take up to 4 weeks), the community may go out to bid for construction services. Once a bid is obtained, the community must share it with the Foundation and must sign a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with the Foundation (similar to the one on the Resources page). Once the MOU is executed, the community will receive construction grant funds. The community must continue its monthly reporting of construction updates. The park must open within 12 months of executing the MOU.

The final funding opportunities become available when the park has been open for 12, 18, and 24 months. Each of the 3 grants equal 5% of the community's construction grant. To be eligible, communities must follow the steps on the After the Park Opens page.

Can we use our capital improvement grants for maintenance costs?

No, the grants muse be used to improve (not maintain) the park. Common grant uses include: adding lighting, benches, trash cans, shade, or expanding the park's size.

May we bank our capital improvement grant funds to save up for a large project?

Yes; if the community wishes to do so, it must let the Foundation know of its intention and still abide by the reporting requirements on the After the Park Opens page.

I'm a resident with questions about a planned dog park in my community. To whom should I direct my questions?

For consistency and to avoid confusion, the Foundation works exclusively with point people designated by a Town Administrator or Mayor. If you have questions about a planned park, please direct them to your local government officials.