Oakland approves plans for dog park started 11 years ago by 8th-grader
The town of Oakland will soon have its first dog park all thanks to the efforts of a 25-year-old man who started the project with his mother when he was in the eighth grade.
Ryan Schwertfeger and his mom came up with the idea for the park over a decade ago for a middle school project. Jill Schwertfeger died of cancer in 2012 and Ryan says that he continued with the project to honor her.
Ryan raised more than $37,000 in cash and $48,000 in pledged donations for the project. It was recently approved by the Oakland Town Council.
The park will be named the Jill Schwertfeger memorial Dog Park after Ryan’s mother since it was originally her idea.
“We just rescued our dog Scooby and I keep hearing about how dog parks are great for socialization and exercise of dogs and we were driving all the way to Ridgewood to go to a dog park,” says Ryan. “So, she said, ‘Try to get one in Oakland.’ And here I was in eighth grade thinking, ‘How hard could that be?’ And here we are 11 years and 2 months later, finally getting the approval to start building.”
Ryan says that he hopes to have the park finished by August, which will mark eight years since his mother passed away.