SIDNEY — Nearly 50 people and nine dogs came out for the opening ceremony dedication of Sidney’s new Steenrod and Rudy Dog Park, located at Deam Park, on Friday morning, Nov. 19.
The dog park is split into two sections, with a water fountain in front of the chain link fence openings. One side, the Rudy Dog Park, is for smaller dogs, weighing up to 30 pounds. The other side, the Steenrod Dog Park, is for larger dogs, weighing over 30 pounds. Each side holds a small gazebo with benches for dog owners to sit on. Nailed to a beam on each gazebo in each park is information about Joe Rudy or Richard Steenrod, whose estates made the dog park possible.
Sidney Parks & Recreation Director Duane Gaier opened the ceremony, noting the creation of the dog park had been a long time coming. He also recognized council members Jenny VanMatre, Steve Wagner, Mayor Mike Barhorst and Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan, along with Recreation Board members Chair Tim Bickel, Amy Zorn and Ed Thomas, who were in all attendance.
“The dogs parks are very beneficial for the dogs for multiple reasons; exercise for the dogs, getting them out of the house,” Gaier said. “The dog park is a great meeting place. It’s great for the social and mental health. …and this is a great location for that and gets you out and off the sofa.”
Barhorst then addressed the gathered crowd, thanking them on behalf of the Sidney City Council for everyone’s hard work to make the dog park happen and for everyone for coming to the ceremony on such a brisk morning.
“I’m not quiet sure when the idea of a dog park began germinated, but it certainly picked up steam with the untimely death of Joe Rudy in 2009, when memorial gifts were specified for this very purpose. Certainly his family, in their unfathomable grief, must be commended for trying to find a way to memorialize Joe’s life and his love for man’s best friend,” Barhorst said. “I hope those who use this park will care for it, cleaning up after their furry friends, and in general, leaving the parking in better shape than they found it.”
He specifically thanked the Community Foundation for the custodial care of the Rudy funds over the last dozen years; 1157 Designs, which Rudy owned before his death, for designing, manufacturing and donating the educational signs attached the fencing around the dog park; SCARF Treasure Sarah Schmitz, who took the lead of the educational information on the signs in the park; and Gaier, for his leadership. He also thanked the Richard Steenrod family for money left to the city of Sidney’s parks after his death, which was decided would go toward the dog park.
Next, Bickel spoke on behalf of the Sidney Recreation Board to offer the board “sincerer thanks and congratulations.” The dog park was often a topic of discussion at Recreation Board meetings.
“Today is special to mark the end of an extended journey and to note that a portion of the city funds are officially going to the dogs,” he said, which drew laughs from the crowd. “Over a dozen years ago, then Parks Director Bob New began the effort of establishing the dog park but budgetary issues and cite locations were dominating competitors. After Bob’s retirement, Duane, in concert with the Recreation Board and City Council kept the issue on the to do list but were dogged. …private citizens came to the rescue with the Steenrod estate and the Rudy Memorial Fund. Both were generous and far cited individuals. ….”
Current owner and CEO of 1157 Designs Evelyn Flock spoke next and gave a shout out to various members of her business team who created the signs hung at the dog park.
“1157 is very, very proud to be part of the first Sidney dog park. Rudy dog park brings two of Joe’s passions together: four-legged friends and the company he founded, 1157 Design Concepts,” Flock said. “I am honored to celebrate Joe’s impact in the city of Sidney with the Steenrod and Rudy Dog Park.”
SCARF Treasurer Sarah Schmitz next spoke about the desire to get involved to provide education on the signs about a healthy dog. People can scan the QR code on the signs or go to SCARF’s website to learn more, she said.
Lastly, members of the Rudy and Steenrod families spoke.
John Rudy, Joe Rudy’s brother, said with emotion, “Joe was a huge dog lover. He and Duke were inseparable; I can tell you that with all of the dog hair he would get in the truck. …The only problem with Duke, is if he got loose, he liked to run, so Joe had the vision of a place to bring Duke, bring the dogs …give them a place to get some exercise. Joe would be very pleased. Our family is very grateful to everybody who made this happen. It really means a lot to us.”
And the son of Rick Steenrod, Richard Steenrod, said members of their family traveled up to Sidney for the ceremony from Troy and Florida.
“On behalf of us, we really want to thank the city and everyone involved in the city. It took a long time. And we especially appreciate Duane and the parks’ effort here. I think our parents would be really proud and humbled to see all the work. — So, let the dogs have some fun!”
Immediately before the ribbon cutting part of the ceremony, in closing, Gaier also recognized various people who constructed the park and those who made it happen, as well as thanked the Rudy and Steenrod families.