Rocky Top Dog Park

Site Description

Rocky Top Dog Park is a beautiful exercise yard and playground for dogs. Located in historic Little Rocky Hill area of South Brunswick, New Jersey it was established in 2001, by owner Gretchen Zimmer. The park is a fenced area where dog owners can exercise their dogs off leash. In most communities, strict leash laws prohibit dog owners from releasing their dog to run free. Most dogs, to be healthy, both physically and behaviorally, must have exercise that amounts to more than a walk around the block tethered to a leash. The dog park provides a safe and legal place for dogs to run off leash.

One look at the park, and it is clear that owner Gretchen Zimmer knows and loves dogs. Ms. Zimmer has trained dogs in pet obedience, competition obedience and the sport of agility. She is a qualified dog-behavioral specialist. During the past thirteen years, Ms Zimmer has fostered numerous homeless dogs.

The park is divided into three separate fenced areas. The main dog park measures 1.6 acres; the small dog area, intended primarily for dogs less than 45 pounds, measures 6,000 square feet; and the puppy area, for puppies up to six months of age, is 4,000 square feet. Access to each area is through double gated entries – to prevent escapes. The park features a beautiful rustic setting with many shade trees.

The main park area includes a dog-swimming pond. It measures 25 feet in diameter and its average depth is two feet. The pond is fed fresh water from a well on the property. Both a mechanical and biological filtration system is installed to keep the pond clean

Use of the park is based on a monthly membership fee. Members adhere to park rules and must qualify their dogs. No aggressive dogs are allowed. Dogs must have proof of good health, properly inoculated against pet diseases and be parasite free. Owners must supervise their dogs at all times and clean up after them. Only member dogs are allowed to enjoy the park.

The Situation

The park is divided into three separately fenced and gated areas. The areas are double gated to prevent escapes. Ms. Zimmer personally interviews the members and qualifies the member dogs. There are enforceable park rules. Park membership can be purchased in four separate plans:

  • Rambunctious Rover – access seven days a week
  • Suave Sadie – access on Saturday and Sunday and major holidays
  • Fi-Fi – access Monday through Friday
  • Puppy Park – for puppies up to six months of age

Ms Zimmer’s goals were:

  • Allow park access to members only
  • Control access to the three areas according to membership status
  • Enforce park rules

And to accomplish these goals without having an on-site manager.

The Keri Solution

Three Keri Systems’ PXL-250 Tiger Controllers equipped with Satellite boards and MS-3000, Microstar readers were selected as the solution that best satisfied Ms. Zimmers’ goals. The Keri Doors software provides all the administrative features to allow Ms Zimmer to control the park from her home without an on-site manager.

Access in and out of the park areas is controlled using the rugged Microstar reader. The readers are constructed of a high impact polycarbonate material encapsulated in solid epoxy. The readers will withstand extreme weather and temperature variations. Members are issued a proximity key-fob that when presented in close proximity to the reader will send a signal to unlock the gate.

The fob is encoded with a unique number that cannot be deciphered. There are millions of numerical combinations so there is no fear of duplication. The fob is small, rugged and fits handily on a key chain. It is also warranted for life against defects and failure due to normal usage.

The Doors software allows programming the key-fob to unlock specific gates at specific times. Therefore, members are granted access to only those areas and at those times defined in their membership agreement. If a member does not abide by the park rules or forfeits membership for any reason, the key-fob can be quickly and easily turned-off or deleted from the system with the click of a computer mouse. If a member upgrades their membership (from “Puppy” to “FiFi”, for example) the change can be made remotely with out having to physically change the fob.

The entire system is connected to Ms. Zimmer’s home via a telephone modem. Members can be enrolled and deleted from the system at the home computer. All programming details such as time schedules; access authority and membership statuses are recorded in the software. At any time, Ms. Zimmer can track the park activity, add and eliminate members and command the locks of each gate. There is no need for an on-site manager.


Ms. Zimmer is very pleased with the system. Administrative costs are minimized and park control is as good if not better than would be if an on-site administrator were employed. Ms. Zimmer’s idea seems to be catching on. Other private dog parks are popping up with the same administrative and control objectives in mind.

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