HALLOWELL — Vaughn Field is going to the dogs once again.

Well, that is the dog park portion of the Hallowell recreation area, which officially reopened to the public Friday.

Shortly after the park opened, patrons told the Kennebec Journal that they were glad the resource was available again. A city Public Works Department vehicle, which was towing a trailer with a small excavator on it, was parked in the driveway around 11 a.m. Friday.

Jane Lincoln, of Farmingdale, and her Shih Tzu/Yorkshire Terrier mix, Benny, were among those who spent some time there on reopening day.

“It’s really nice and my dog really likes it,” Lincoln said, adding that there aren’t many places locally she that Benny can run around off-leash. “It’s really lovely with the field.”

Bethany Lund, of Hallowell, later came to the park with her French bulldog, Tootsie, who became fast friends with Benny. She said the reopening of the park was particularly helpful for her because Tootsie, who was recently adopted, developed a habit of using the bathroom at the park and was not adjusting well to the change. She said she was “so, so happy” the park was reopened.

Reported as recently as Wednesday, the park’s future was still up in the air, according to Hallowell officials. But Public Works Director Chris Buck said Friday that it was ready to be reopened after brush piles from a Sunday clean-up event were removed and a dog waste disposal station was installed.

On Sunday, a handful of city officials spent a couple of hours cutting back brush and cleaning up bags of dog waste in the city’s dog park at Vaughn Field. Councilor Maureen Aucoin, who organized the event, said only eight people attended the Sunday cleanup event and “they were all (city) councilors, their partners and a council candidate.” She called the response, or lack thereof, from users of the dog park “disappointing.”

A photo taken Thursday shows recently reopened Hallowell dog park at Vaughan Field.

Workers at the Public Works Garage on Water Street said they installed a dog waste disposal station with a small trash can and a small bag dispenser at the site Thursday and removed brush piles on Friday. The addition of the waste station was seeing immediate use Friday. As Tootsie ran off to do her business, Lund quickly grabbed a bag from the dispenser and dutifully followed the dog.

The dog park was closed after a City Council action on Sept. 9, because the buildup of dog waste presented a health hazard, according Buck. Residents sounded off about the dog park’s importance later in September at a public meeting hosted by Dufour. At that forum, residents expressed interest in reopening it in a timely fashion and placing a small trash can there. Trash cans were removed from the property in July 2018 because they were overflowing and even being smeared with dog feces, according to Buck.

Lincoln said the park, which was once overgrown and littered with bags of dog feces, “wasn’t a very pretty scene.” She said she sympathized with the City Council’s decision to close the park, even though she uses the park frequently. She said she was pleased to see it back open and added that the park looked better without the overgrown weeds.

The surface of the park was not worked on, but City Manager Nate Rudy said the Public Works Department will “assess the top layer and possibly add material at a later time.” Buck said that may happen Monday.

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