Robert Ahlers started out in the first grade as a Tiger Scout and stuck with it and at the age of 16 recently completed the final requirement for the rank of Eagle Scout by building a dog park in the upper portion of the Milton Landing Park off of Sands Avenue.
“I came up with the idea [for the park] because Marlborough didn’t have a dog park and as an owner of two dogs I really wanted a place a little closer than Gardner; someplace to let them run around other than our yard,” he said.
Ahlers said Marlborough has considered a dog park “for years and it was a common thing that we just needed to work towards.” He first pitched the idea to the Town Board four years ago and he and his support group broke ground on it last year.
The town suggested building it at the upper landing park and brought in fill that raised the land by about 6 feet. Once it was leveled Ahlers began his project in earnest.
“I am very pleased with the outcome; it took four years but couldn’t be happier with it,’ he said with a smile.
Ahlers recalled that his troops’ committee urged him many times to take on an easier project but he stuck with the dog park idea and pushed to finish his vision.
“The committee for Troop 72 has been really helpful throughout my scouting journey,” he said.
Ahlers likes camping out with the scouts “but the most fun I’ve had is actually working on this.” He said many of his fellow scouts helped him, especially with the outside fencing and the pathway.
Supervisor Al Lanzetta praised Ahlers’ efforts to create the dog park.
“He started this, he had the vision [and] got a lot of people involved, Lanzetta said.
Lanzetta said in 2009 he and the Town Board purchased the park land at the riverfront and above off Sands Ave, with two grants – $500,000 from Scenic Hudson and another of nearly $500,000 from the NYS Office of Parks and Recreation. There are renderings available in his office at town hall on how the overall park will be developed.
“We’re moving forward on this so thanks to Rob [Ahlers] now we have a dog park,” Lanzetta said. “I think he deserves a big round of applause.”
Ahlers thanked many individuals who have supported and helped him with “this wonderful park.” – Gael Appler Sr., John Alonge and the rest of the Town Highway Department who brought and leveled the fill at the park; Steve Rivieccio of Top Seed for bringing his excavator with an auger to install the fencing; Lee Gordon and Diamond Landscaping who did the final mowing to get ready for opening day; Tom Coupart, of Coupart Construction for helping to build the kiosk; firefighters from the Milton Fire Department “who came together a lot of Saturdays and Sundays; Adams fencing who gave a “massive” discount on materials; Karen Rider for providing flowers at the entrance to the park; Scoutmasters Steve and Kurt Borchert of Troop 72 for help with the outside fencing using equipment from their farm; Christina DeMaio of Minard Beverages for apple cider; Dane Mannese of Mannese Trucking for monetary support to purchase concrete; Supervisor Al Lanzetta, Councilmen Alan Koenig and the Town Board for their support, Chad Wade, of Landarch Studios, for drawing sketches for the park without charge; Tom Mackerer, of Crop Production Services, for free grass seed and fertilizer; Chip Kent, of Locust Grove Farm, for providing apple cider donuts and the loan of a machine used to construct a pathway; Corey, Jeff and Brian, of Milton Hardware for providing signs and the post materials; and a “big thanks to everybody who provided me with monetary donations and time, really every little thing helped and most of all I would like to thank my parents, for without them I never would have been able to do this.”
Tom Coupart helped Ahlers build the sign kiosk at the entrance to the park. He said the young scout reached out to him at the Milton Fire Department’s Lobster Bake in August asking for his help “and I said absolutely, just tell me the date and time and I’ll come over.”
When Coupart arrived he noticed that the kiosk poles were being put in incorrectly.
“We got them all set and I came back the following weekend and framed it and later put the shingles on,” Coupart said. “He’s a nice fellow [from] a great family and this is the top prize you get for Eagle Scout. Working on it for four years, that’s perseverance on his part. It builds character. He’s a smart kid, he should be very proud of himself.”
Asst. Scoutmaster Steve Borchert estimated that Ahlers put in hundreds of hours into the dog park project.
“He did very well with this project. When I first saw it I said wow, its a big undertaking,” Borchert said.
By Mark Reynolds