A clever Great Dane and an interest in engineering sparked an idea in a 7-year-old York City girl's head: Why not build a dog park in the city?

Holden Given had the revelation last year after realizing the family's 5-year-old Great Dane, Brutus, was able to use his head to open the front door at their South Pershing Avenue home.

"I thought that he's always inside, and the backyard isn't that big. So I wanted to give him a place to run around and play with other dogs," Holden Given said as she stood on the 1-acre plot of land at 238 W. King St.

Holden is the daughter of Philip Given, the city's acting director of community and economic development, and his wife, Meagan Given, who runs the annual Give Local York event to raise money for nonprofits. 

"Pal's Park" would be sited on land owned by York City and pay tribute to the dog of Arthur Glatfelter, a well-known philanthropist in York. A statue of Pal already sits on the land to greet those driving by on West King Street.

Mayor Michael Helfrich's administration, within which Philip Given works, approved the effort, as the land is already zoned as a park. 

The plot of land is the perfect spot for a two-section dog park to serve both smaller and larger dogs, said Philip Given.

The land, isolated by a line of trees along the York County Heritage Rail Trail, is mostly fenced in already.

Old fencing would be replaced and new fencing would complete the enclosure, under the Givens' plan. 

Other touches include two water fountains for dogs at the park, which the York Water Co. has already committed to constructing.

Work on the land is expected to begin this spring, Meagan Given said. The family hopes to have the dog park completed in the summer.

"If anything, I'm hoping that's what (Holden's) taken away from this," Meagan Given said. "You can have an idea, and you just have to get out there and talk to people about it and find the right people to pull it all together."

"It's cool to see. She has big ideas and she's very creative," she added.

Yost Strodski Mears in York designed the park on the land free of charge.

The Given family has raised $12,000 through crowdfunding for the project, which is expected to cost $50,000 in total.

About $5,000 was raised during the Gannett Foundation's Community Thrives grants project, which the company matched with another $5,000 last month. The York Dispatch is published through Gannett Co. Inc. 

The last $2,000 came from fundraising during Give Local York, an annual event organized by Meagan Given. 

The lead sponsor of the project is the Arthur J Glatfelter Foundation, which is also expected to cut a "big check" for the project, Meagan Given said. 

In the meantime, the family will submit other grant applications and work on more fundraising efforts.

City employees would maintain the park, but the city would be compensated for the work through the donor-driven Pal's Park Fund at the York City Parks Conservancy, the Givens said.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.

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