OAKLAND, N.J. — For years, Hackensack native Ryan Schwertfeger dreamed of a place where dogs could roam free.
While in eighth grade, he started a class project on how to help Oakland, where he was raised. Seven years later, he's closer than ever to making it a reality.
Now attending Waynesburg University in Pennsylvania, the 21-year-old Schwertfeger views Great Oak Park as an ideal location. Committees have formed and the plan appears to be on track, he said.
All that's needed is from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on allowed uses for the property. Then the next steps can be planned.
Schwertfeger wants to name the park after his mother, who died in 2012.
"She was the inspiration to me wanting to get a dog park," he said, "plus the fact that she, in my opinion, was a great example of the spirit of Oakland in terms of volunteering and doing small things to make the community better without seeking recognition."
It's no coincidence that Schwertfeger studies politics and communication in school and is secretary of the Student Senate and news digest editor of the school newspaper.
Mike Guadagnino, chairman of the Oakland Recreation Committee, said he's reviewed several ideas and concepts with Schwertfeger over the years.
"The dog park is a fantastic idea and would be a great addition to Oakland," Guadagnino told Daily Voice, "but we need to understand there are still quite a few hurdles until we can open the dog park.
"I am very optimistic that this will occur one day and I know a majority of the borough is behind it."
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