Organizers say the project refreshes a well-loved public amenity, with upgrades for drainage, expanded accessibility, and agility equipment for dogs.
By Matt Skoufalos | October 12, 2023
Extensive improvements are in the works for a long-lived Camden County Parks amenity: the Cooper River “Pooch Park.”
One of the first dog parks in the region, it was established some 20 years ago as little more than a fenced-in section of Park Boulevard in Cherry Hill.
But within a few months, the property will be transformed into a more expansive gathering spot for pets and their caretakers, re-graded to address drainage concerns, and featuring a new pavilion, signage, and better accessibility.
Camden County Parks Director Maggie McCann Johns described the dog park as “well loved,” and due for an upgrade.
“We want to keep everybody safe, and provide opportunities for dogs to run free,” McCann Johns said.
Upgrades include demolition of the old infrastructure, new fenced-in areas for large and small dogs, agility equipment, and improvements to the parking lot, sidewalk, and walking paths.
In total, the project is estimated at $775,000 — costs allocated within the $100-million Parks Alive 2025 plan — and will take 10 weeks or so to complete.
Alisa Mairone of Pennsauken said her Boston terriers Walter and Stanley enjoy many of the dog parks in South Jersey, but that Cooper River is the best one in the area.
“This is our home base,” she said.
Mairone’s main concerns with the existing dog park were related to flooding and accessibility, but she is also looking forward to having agility equipment for her dogs.
“It’s great to see Camden County responding with a plan,” she said.
Tom Masullo of Collingswood, who runs a Discord server that helps dog owners in the area coordinate meet-ups, became a community liaison to the county during the course of the project planning phases. He hopes to keep advocating for the needs of the group beyond the completion of the project.
“With any luck, we’ll be able to continue this,” he said. “It’s built a community that was needed.”
A nurse practitioner who works in behavioral health, Masullo said the fenced-in runs at the Cooper River dog park are as critical to the emotional and physical well-being of pets as they are to their owners. He trained his Goldendoodle, Connor, as as a therapy dog there.
“A pup can’t be on leash all the time,” Masullo said. “They need a place to run off their energy.”
Lynn Perrone of Maple Shade said the dog park was great for helping her socialize Goju, her Akita-Husky mix. Both breeds are known for needing firm training, especially around other animals, so she started bringing Goju to the park at eight weeks old.
Now she’s looking forward to the upgrades giving him even more to do there.
“The one thing that’s best to do when you have an aggressive dog is to socialize them,” Perrone said. “These things help dogs with their self-confidence.”
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