Amityville residents now have a place where their canine companions can enjoy the salt air and sun, thanks to an enterprising teen.
Village native Nick D’Amato, 18, spearheaded the construction of the Amityville Beach dog park last fall to earn his Eagle Scout badge. He was inspired by his family’s three dogs: Boozer, a Saint Bernard; Tonka, a shepherd mix; and golden retriever, Kelly. The D’Amato family, along with many other Amityville residents, would walk their dogs on Amityville Beach, despite signs prohibiting dog-walking.
“I thought, ‘What if people did have a place to go?’” D’Amato said.
D’Amato has worked with his father, Tom, a foreman for the village, throughout his childhood helping out with construction side projects. He also took classes in carpentry and construction during high school at Western Suffolk BOCES, so he had an idea about how to see the project through.
Village officials quickly signed off on the 40-by-150-foot chain-link enclosure proposed by D'Amato, and local businesses donated most of the fencing material and signs. D’Amato held a Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser to cover the cost of benches and fencing material that wasn’t donated. Leftover funds were used to buy doggy waste bag dispensers to help keep the park clean.
“It’s really cool how the community pitched in,” D'Amato said. His friends and family donated their time to help D'Amato build the park, but community participation didn’t end there. Since the park was completed last November, dog owners have hung planters of flowers and plants from the fence and left chew toys and softballs in the park for dogs to play with.
“It's just amazing how many village residents are down there at one time,” Deputy Mayor Peter Casserly said. “There’s never a time where you drive by and there’s nobody there. It’s a huge success.”
The experience has left D’Amato, who graduated from high school in June, torn career-wise. He’s now debating a career in construction versus becoming a firefighter.
The Amityville Beach dog park, part of Amityville Municipal Beach Park, is open from dawn to dusk.
Nick D'Amato, 18, poses with his Saint Bernard, Boozer, in the Amityville Beach dog park. D'Amato spearheaded the park's construction as his Eagle Scout project so Amityville residents would have a place for their canine companions to play. (July 22, 2011)