HARRISON, N.Y. Family and friends of former Town Clerk Joseph "Joey" Acocella Jr. met Saturday morning at the Harrison Dog Park to commemorate the one-year anniversary of its opening.
The dog park, which opened in May 2011, was spearheaded by Acocella. It was completed three months before his untimely passing at the age of 30. R.J. Suhre, a Boy Scout at the time, brought the idea to Acocella for his Eagle Scout project. Suhre is away at college and couldn't attend Saturday, but his mother and father were at the dog park to show their support.
"I think that this dog park has been great for the community," said Robert Suhre, R.J. Suhre's father. "Joey was a big advocate to get the park up and running. It never would have happened if the people involved didn't give such a tremendous effort to get it going."
Acocella's father, Joseph Acocella Sr., said his son always loved animals, especially dogs. Acocella Sr. said that because the dog park is for the entire community, something his son valued greatly, it is a fitting tribute to him.
"It's appropriate they are going to plant a tree and put a plaque up in honor of my son," Acocella Sr. said. "R.J's name will be on it, too, for all his help."
Anthony Acocella, brother of Acocella Jr., said his brother would have liked what the dog park has become and how many people inside and outside of Harrison are using it.
"It gives people a place to enjoy their time outside," Anthony Acocella said. "This shows how many people supported their idea for a dog park in town. My brother and R.J. envisioned this for Harrison, and they came up with a good idea."
Acocella Jr. was quoted as saying in May 2011 that the park would be self-sustaining and that all fees paid for passes to the dog park and money collected from spaying and neutering dogs would go toward the park.
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