The idea came to Caroline Boback while she was enjoying some fun time with her three basset hounds - Jack, Lola and Allie.
The Niagara Falls native, who traveled to various parts of the country with her dogs throughout the years, thought it would be great if they had a place of their own to run and play in their hometown.
She jotted down a few thoughts on the idea in a notebook and plans for the city's first dog park were born.
It took about four years of gathering support from fellow dog lovers as well as the proper permission from city and state officials, but on Thursday Boback was able to proudly say that she helped bring to fruition a simple dream of creating space where dogs can run and play and park inside city limits.
"I'm just overjoyed beyond words," said Boback. "I'm proud. I'm proud for my family and proud for the city that we were able to take this step."
After years of planning, the first dog park in the Falls is now officially open to the public at DeVeaux Woods State Park. Federal funding covered the purchase and installation of fencing and other park furnishings. Under an agreement between the city and the state, both entities will share maintenance duties moving forward.
"This dog park is yet another example of the state and the city partnering to provide a recreational amenity to the residents of Niagara Falls," said Mayor Paul Dyster.
Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony also highlighted another completed project at the park - the opening of a new comfort station that was built using bricks from the old carriage barn building that previously stood on the site.
The Civil-War era carriage barn, which was first erected in 1863 - was demolished in May 2018 after a windstorm caused a partial collapse of the building. Bricks from the building were salvaged and repurposed for the construction of the restroom which features history related to the barn. The $600,260 project was funded by the Niagara River Greenway Commission and was completed by NCI Construction, J.R. Swanson of Niagara Falls and M&M Electric, also from Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls City Councilmen Bill Kennedy and Kenny Tompkins, along with Dyster, spoke out about saving the structure before it was irreversibly damaged.
On Thursday, both Dyster and Kennedy acknowledged that while they had hoped to preserve the carriage barn, they were pleased to see pieces of the historic building used to build the new comfort station for park users.
"This is a major win for the city," Kennedy said.