By Meredith McCulloch
Ten enthusiastic dog owners and dog lovers attended the May 15 Selectmen’s meeting to express their interest in serving on the ad hoc Dog Park committee. Enthusiasm for a dog park was strong among the group. Many have used dog parks in other towns and felt it an amenity that Bedford should provide.
Dog parks were described as a safe place to socialize the dogs and as a community space where their owners can meet people. The community aspect was noted as especially valuable for those who do not have children and lack the opportunity to meet neighbors through the schools.
Dog parks are fenced areas where dogs may run freely off leash in safety and without the risk of making other residents uncomfortable. Often a source of water is available.A list of five potential sites to be reviewed by the committee has been identified by the Department of Public Works. The charge includes evaluating the sites, determining the cost of developing and maintaining the site and identifying potential sources of funding.
The Stanton Foundation may be a source as it provides grants to Massachusetts towns to support dog parks. (For more about the Foundation and a list of towns which have received grants see: http://thestantonfoundation.org/canine/dog-parks]
The ad hoc Committee was to have been made up of five appointed members-at-large plus two Selectmen. Selectmen Caroline Fedele and Ed Pierce were appointed first. Responding to the enthusiasm of the applicants, the Selectmen moved to amend the charter to allow for nine members at large. (One of the applicants had volunteered that he wound be happy to withdraw and had volunteered in fear that others would not step forward.) The appointments are effective through June 30, 2018.