Melbourne dog park coming soon courtesy of Muscle Car Museum owner
Pieloch Dog Park opens Saturday at 10 a.m.
MELBOURNE, Fla. – Mark Pieloch has twin long-term passions: muscle cars and pets.
The founder of the American Muscle Car Museum, Pieloch is an animal pharmaceutical inventor and entrepreneur. And he is donating up to $50,000 to launch the city of Melbourne's first dog park, at the northeast corner of Southwest Park, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
"The price tag is priceless. What's being created here is a one-of-a-kind dog park, a destination dog park," said Kevin Briski, Melbourne's parks and recreation director.
"The gift from the Pieloch family is immeasurable. The value of the donation is really priceless in its value to the residents and all the dogs that'll be able to use that property," Briski said.
A "leash-cutting" opening ceremony for the Pieloch Dog Park takes place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
The free off-leash dog park will feature separate fenced zones for small and large animals. Canine amenities include red water-spraying fire hydrants, wooden agility stations with ramps and steps, and tires.
For human attendees, the dog park offers Adirondack chairs, benches, a small gazebo and a pavilion.
"This will be one of the best in the state of Florida, if you look at the size, the amenities, the dog-washing stations," Melbourne City Councilman Paul Alfrey said, standing beneath the dog park pavilion.
In December, Pieloch inked a City Hall agreement to donate between $25,000 and $50,000 to the city to build his namesake dog park.
Alfrey, a former Melbourne police K-9 officer, is managing the project. He estimated the Pieloch Dog Park will cost $32,000 to $35,000.
However, bolstered by sponsors and hundreds of volunteer labor hours, Alfrey said the park's value will likely exceed $100,000.
The Wickham Park dog park lies within Melbourne city limits, but that facility is managed by Brevard County.
Initially, Melbourne officials considered adding a dog park at Ruffner Park, a small recreational area on Country Club Drive just north of the Florida Institute of Technology. But neighbors objected during a town hall meeting in July.
Melbourne parks personnel converged on the Pieloch Dog Park construction site this week. What's more, volunteers logged two-hour shifts Saturday and Sunday during a "community build," erecting fencing, laying sod, painting and building equipment.
Pieloch is founder and president of PF Inc. (formerly Pet Flavors), which is based in Melbourne. He was one of three Citizen of the Year finalists in FLORIDA TODAY's 2017 Volunteer Recognition Awards.
"I've been very in-tune to helping out the companion animal care industry," Pieloch said, standing in his American Muscle Car Museum front showroom near a silver-and-black 2005 Ford GT. Miles on the odometer: 4.
"I've patented different arthritis products for dogs and cats. I built a no-kill shelter in Lincoln, Nebraska. I gave them $1.5 million to build a 15,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art no-kill shelter that saves more than 5,000 dogs' and cats' lives per year," he said.
Pieloch's $1.5 million Nebraska donation launched construction of the $2.9 million Pieloch Pet Adoption Center, which opened in 2013. The Capital Humane Society operates the animal shelter.
He also donated $600,000 to help expand the Washington State University veterinary school.
Pieloch built his 90,000-square-foot Sarno Road museum to house his growing collection of ultra-rare muscle cars and performance vehicles. Since the solar-powered facility opened in October 2016, his collection has grown to 302 vehicles valued at roughly $50 million.
The American Muscle Car Museum typically only opens to the public during charitable events. Upcoming fundraisers will benefit the Children's Advocacy Center of Brevard (Saturday), Helping Seniors of Brevard (April 27) and Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation (May 4-5).
"By the time we get that last fundraiser in May, we will have done over 50 fundraisers and raised over $3 million," Pieloch said.
Alfrey co-designed the dog park with John Casey, former chairman of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Pet Posse committee.
During Tuesday's City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Debbie Thomas praised Alfrey for working "tirelessly" on the project.
"He's been working all day, into the evenings, getting ready for next weekend," Thomas said.
Dog park grand opening
An opening ceremony for the Pieloch Dog Park takes place from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the northeast corner of Southwest Park, 401 W. Florida Ave. Dog owners are encouraged to bring their pets.
A "leash-cutting" takes place at 10:30 a.m., after which the dog park will open to canines.
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