Room To Roam Dog Park

In a 2005 Rome Community Project Initiative, the idea for the Room To Roam Dog Park began. In an open forum asking community members what they wanted to see, someone answered “a dog park - dogs need to socialize too!” The pieces of the puzzle aligned with the 9.5 acre plot of land off of Apache Avenue graciously provided by the Town of Rome. The beautiful park is situated in a heavily wooded area with large pine trees and Rome’s rolling hills - the perfect location for Fido to exercise. As a former landfill, the property could only be used as a park. The Town of Rome prepped the land with rubber matting over the top, covered with two feet of soil, and then planted with seed to complete the process.

 

In March of 2006, the plan came to life. Kathy and her husband Larry Halverson were two of the founding members of the dog park. Alongside friends and founding members, Bob and Kaye Eckert, the couples fenced the entire property with the help of over 20 volunteers, held informational meetings, and sent out letters to local businesses and veterinarians requesting donations. As the group was completing the second half of fencing, Dr. David Wickersham, the Halverson’s local vet, came walking over the hill to inspect the project. “I just wanted to come out and see what you were doing before I determined my donation,” Wickersham smiled. Later that afternoon, Room To Roam received one of their first donations -  $2,500 from Dr. David and Joanne Wickersham. Along with the donation came the naming rights, and “Room To Roam” was open seven days later.

 Founding Couple Kathy & Larry Halverson with fur baby Maizy on the left / Dog Park Volunteers Marge & Don Smith with fur baby Ellie  on the right [  all images captured by Jeffrey Bertch of Links & Landscape Photography ] 

Founding Couple Kathy & Larry Halverson with fur baby Maizy on the left / Dog Park Volunteers Marge & Don Smith with fur baby Ellie  on the right [  all images captured by Jeffrey Bertch of Links & Landscape Photography ] 

Room To Roam would not have been possible without the hard work of local volunteers and support of the Town - evidence of our great Rome community. The Park is run solely on donations. One shelter on property, the “Ziel Schaack,” was donated by Bill & Anne Ziel, Lake Sherwood residents, and Dr. Mark Schaack of Animal Medical Surgical Clinic in Wisconsin Rapids. The other structure, the “Dog Gone Shelter,” was donated by Dr. Wickersham in honor of his deceased dog clients. Even the road leading to the park, “Roman’s Way,” was funded by a generous donation from the estate of Thom Markey, who used to visit the park three times a day with his German Shepard, Roman. Kathy Halverson shared, “We want to thank all of the wonderful volunteers that have helped to create this beautiful park for everyone to enjoy.”

 

Over the last 12 years, Room To Roam has received hundreds of donations and collected over $55,000. Now revered as one of the top dog parks in Wisconsin, Room To Roam hosts dog play dates throughout the year, as well as other special events like cocktail/hors d'oeuvres nights at the park. Open 24/7 and year round, Room To Roam is equipped with picnic tables, benches, dog agility equipment, porta-potties, shelters, double-gated security entry, and large open space for your dogs to play and socialize.

One of Room To Roam’s founding members, Kaye Eckert, encapsulates the journey well, "Today when I go to the dog park, I recall the great times our original members had planning and constructing Room to Roam. We established lasting friendships.  Even more, I am in awe of the continuing loving care and the many improvements done by those members coming after us. Thank you! I think our dogs brings out the best in us.” Visit the Room To Roam Dog Park for yourself - it’s a gem of Rome that displays an outstanding, collaborative community effort.

For more information on the Room To Roam Dog Park, follow their Facebook Page or email Kathy Halverson k4thy@wctc.net  / Marge Smith snuffmg@yahoo.com.

- Cameryn Kwaterski, Visit Rome, WI, Inc. Executive Director

[ All wonderful Room To Roam Photography was captured by Jeffrey Bertch of Links & Landscape Photography - www.linkslandphoto.com ]