Stanley dog park nearing completion

Local man will open Stanley's first dog park.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 5:27 PM EDT
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STANLEY, Va. (WHSV) - The Town of Stanley will soon open Page County’s first dog park. Bailey’s Legacy Dog Park is the vision of one local man who funded the entire project in honor of his late dog.

Don Feliciano moved to Page County from New Jersey in 2015 and was surprised to learn that there was no dog park in the county so he took matters into his own hands.

“I probably have visited 50 dog parks in New Jersey, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. I just think they’re great, not only are they great for the dogs because they can run and play with other dogs but it’s a fabulous local meeting place for residents of the area,” said Feliciano.

Back in 2012, Feliciano was living in Mercer County New Jersey. One morning he was walking his dog Bailey when he was hit by a truck. He woke up in the trauma center and learned that Bailey had stayed by his side until first responders arrived.

In the months after the accident, he couldn’t take Bailey on walks anymore and found a different solution.

“She wasn’t hit, I was but somebody said to me ‘well dummy take your dog to a dog park because you don’t have to do anything and you take your dog off the leash and let her play with the other dogs’ and I said that’s very smart,” said Feliciano.

After moving to Page County Feliciano decided he wanted to bring a dog park to the area. He eventually reached out to Nina Fox, Page County’s Economic Development and Tourism Director.

“She apparently calls Terry Pettit, Town Manger in Stanley right down the road from me and he is excited. He apparently visits his granddaughter and they go to the dog park in Harrisonburg all the time to take out her dog,” said Feliciano. “I told him what my vision was if you want to call it that and he said let’s meet. Within a week I got approval from the town council in Stanley to start exploring doing the dog park.”

Plans began to move forward to build the dog park at Hawksbill Recreation Park and despite some supply chain snags the project is now nearly finished.

“If you want to get a dog park built anywhere and you say to them and I’ll pay for it, it makes you very popular. We’re almost done now but it took us like two years to get there,” said Feliciano. “We had a lot of trouble getting all these things that we ordered. We ordered everything back in July of 2022 and didn’t start receiving it until December, we still haven’t received one of the articles we bought.”

The park will include some unique elements like a splash pad for dogs that enjoy the water. With plans to open the park in April Felicano said there seems to be a lot of excitement in the town.

“People stop by all the time and I give them a brochure and I say well let your dogs out, let them try it out. Dogs love it that’s all I know, dogs don’t like being on leashes and they’re not going to have any argument from me,” he said.

Feliciano said he is also excited about the social aspect of the park.

“One place I went to in New Jersey had 150 people in this dog park at 8 a.m. on a Sunday. They go there to read the paper, they go there to chat with their neighbors and we all live kind of separate down here in the rural areas so you don’t even see your neighbors but god knows they like chatting at the dog park,” he said.

Feliciano is inviting dog owners to bring their dogs to the park on the first two Saturdays in April as a sort of soft opening to test it out.