Rose, center, and Isabella Licavoli try putting a helmet on dog Gus, the winner of the best dressed contest at the opening of Macomb Township’s Pitchford Park dog park.

Rose, center, and Isabella Licavoli try putting a helmet on dog Gus, the winner of the best dressed contest at the opening of Macomb Township’s Pitchford Park dog park.

Photo by Dean Vaglia

‘Tail-gate’ opens Pitchford dog park in Macomb Township

By: Dean Vaglia | Macomb Chronicle | Published December 4, 2023


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — In the cold morning hours of Nov. 18, the residents of Macomb Township waited for the leash to drop.

After a series of quick speeches and months of construction, Macomb Township’s dogs had their day to run, roll and bark around the Pitchford Park dog park.

“Many of you know the dog park has been on our radar for a long time,” Macomb Township Parks and Recreation Director Sal DiCaro said during the opening ceremony. “It took a very generous donation to the township from the Pitchford family to give us this land and make this park a reality. We are confident that the park will be enjoyed by many residents and all their furry friends for many years to come.”

The park is split into two fenced-in grass fields, one each for dogs under and over 25 pounds. Stones, trees and hills break up the fields while a pavilion at the back of the large dog field provides owners a place to sit while their dogs run around the 1.63-acre park. Artwork attached to the fences was donated by the Greater Metropolitan Association of Realtors and a statue outside the park was donated by First State Bank.

The plan to build a dog park in Macomb Township dates back to the origins of Pitchford Park. Discussions between the Pitchford family and the township began about three years ago, and the idea of including a dog park was present from initial talks.

“The biggest thing is we relied on our professional staff who have experience with these things, our engineers and our parks and rec team,” Macomb Township Supervisor Frank Viviano said. “The three full-time elected officials (Viviano, Macomb Township Treasurer Leon Drolet and Macomb Township Clerk Kristi Pozzi) actually did site visits to multiple dog parks to look at how they are laid out, their amenities and what we could do.”

Viviano says officials visited dog parks at the Clinton Township Civic Center, the Sterling Heights dog park, the Pioneer Park Dog Park in Utica, Bald Mountain State Recreation Area’s dog park in Orion Township and the dog park inside Stony Creek Metropark. One idea picked up from visiting these parks was the addition of a doghouse-shaped gateway into the park styled after Snoopy’s from “Peanuts.”

The dog park will be free to access throughout the rest of 2023 but will be limited to people holding a registered park pass.

“The purpose of that is so that all of our users of the park have gone through the Macomb County Animal Control and properly licensed their dogs and provided proof of vaccinations so that we know, at a minimum, that the dogs using the park have all been vaccinated and are healthy,” Viviano said.

A slate of proposed fees for the dog park put key fobs at $10 with a two-per-household limit. Township residents can purchase an annual park pass for $30. The pass costs $46 for nonresidents with seniors receiving a 50% discount. Passes will be valid from Feb. 1 to Jan. 31.

The opening of the dog park also serves as the soft opening of Pitchford Park as a whole. Viviano estimates the park is 95% complete as facilities like benches, playground equipment and athletic courts are already in place.

“The only thing that is not complete is that we’re not going to be able to seed the park until spring,” Viviano said. “Some areas we were able to sod, some areas we put some straw mats down. Everything will get seeded in the spring.”

Further work will be done to a portion of the park bought after the Pitchford family’s donation, including removing a large fill dirt mound and installing security cameras. A formal opening ceremony is planned for late spring/early summer 2024.

Pitchford Park is open from dawn to dusk.