FORT KENT — From swimming lessons, mini golf, concerts in the park, softball, and now a dog park, the Fort Kent Parks and Recreation Department has plenty to offer on hot summer days.
Parks and Recreation Director Jason Nadeau said the town council voted last fall to create a dog park, but it wasn’t completely set up until this spring. The park is located at Riverside Park and contains separate sections for bigger and smaller dogs.
“Everyone loves it, and they think it’s a great place for their dogs to go mingle with other dogs,” he said. “It’s a place where you can safely let your dog run around, and there are a few obstacles they can play around on.”
So far, Nadeau said pet owners have been good about picking up after their dogs.
The park was built after outreach from several community members, Nadeau said.
“They were reaching out to me as well as town council members,” he said.
Ideally, the park will let dogs socialize with other dogs.
“That’s the only nerve-wracking part, if your dog’s not acquainted with other dogs,” Nadeau said, “but it’s a great chance for them to make new friends.”
Aside from Nadeau, the rec department consists of one other full-time employee, a part-time maintenance worker, between 8 and 10 lifeguards, and roughly 15 summer staff. Nadeau said the summer staff are mostly high school students.
Nadeau began working as the rec director in 2021 and went to school for sports management in the 1990s. He applied for the Fort Kent rec director job about 20 years earlier but ended up moving to New Hampshire for about five years before ultimately returning to the St. John Valley.
And since taking the reins, he has added a mini golf course and a weekly summer event at Riverside Park featuring live music, food vendors, and several other activities. Nadeau hopes to set up more adult programming, citing the popularity of softball and pickleball in nearby communities.
There are plenty of programs and activities to manage, but for Nadeau, it’s a great opportunity to make Fort Kent feel a bit more like it did when he was growing up there.
“I’ve always wanted to do something here in the town of Fort Kent,” he said. “I have fond memories growing up and participating in [the summer rec programs]. It was just a fun part of summer for me.”