Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to the Bedford Selectmen on May 26, 2018

Submitted by Kathy Morse and Jeff Morse, Bob and Terri Bradford, Rebecca and Thom Neale

Dear Bedford Selectmen,

We are 161 Bedford residents and growing who are opposed to putting a dog park at Springs Brook Park. We are users of Springs Brook Park; parents and grandparents of young children; dog owners; and non-dog owners; seniors; and residents who worry about further reducing the natural and rural spaces that reflect Bedford’s history.

We are writing to express our strong opposition to the Springs Brook Park site proposed by the Dog Park Task Force.

A dog park will cause irreversible environmental damage, unnecessary safety risks, and pollute the natural sounds and quiet we enjoy in our precious woodlands.

Many of us use this area for recreation year-round. We walk and jog through Springs Brook Park daily with and without our dogs and children. We use the playground with our children; and snowshoe and cross-country ski in the winter. It is a wonderful place to be surrounded by solitude and nature while getting exercise. Springs Brook Park is a unique open recreational space, one of Bedford’s true gems. Its quiet preserves our small-town charm and creates a space that distinguishes Bedford from surrounding towns.

With 30 miles of trails and a leash law that lets dogs run free, Bedford does not need a dog park at Springs Brook Park.

Entering the Springs Brook Park recreation area quickly transports us into a unique retreat from the hubbub of modern life. The sights, smells, and sounds of traffic, commerce, and technology are replaced by birds singing, deer running through the leaves, critters scrambling in the dirt, and sometimes coyotes howling. For everyone, the woodlands promote health and well being in our increasingly congested town. Increased year-round vehicle traffic and dogs barking would replace the natural calm and quiet of the forest and the 9/11 Memorial. Excessive noise is a form of environmental pollution that should be considered in determining the location of a dog park.

We have a number of concerns about this site, including:

IRREVERSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE

Permanent tree removal from a beautiful, wooded area

  • More than 50 deciduous and evergreen trees, many of them mature, will be cut down. This uneven area also contains stone walls and large boulders.
  • SBP has already had irreversible tree removal. A significant number of trees were removed, to create the overflow parking lot at SBP that is now not utilized. All relocated lady slippers did not survive.

Disturbance of the delicate balance of the wetland

  • The proposed site is within the 100-foot Wetland Buffer, which would require a permit from the Conservation Commission pursuant to the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act. Removing trees within the Wetland Buffer will cause the ground to be wetter.
  • The Conservation Commission’s Tree Removal Policy protects living trees and standing dead trees (“snags”), and leaving downed trees in place.
  •  Bedford’s Wetlands Protection Bylaw prohibits the removal or destruction of plant life, including cutting of trees and shrubs.
  • Replacing natural growth with an impermeable asphalt surface for a parking lot makes this project even more concerning in terms of environmental impacts.
  • The proposed dog park will need a big enough storm drain to prevent water overflowing downhill to the pond and wetlands after park irrigation/cleaning or several days of heavy rain.

Harm to endangered species

  • The Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program has identified 18 species (plants and animals) in Bedford that are either endangered, threatened or a special concern.
  • Construction of a parking lot and dog park will reduce the species habitat. Dog waste will increase ground contamination; further impacting protected wildlife and plants.

UNNECESSARY SAFETY RISKS

Dog bites or aggressive dog incidents were reported almost monthly in the last 14 months. These numbers are under-reported. 77% of reported dog-related BPD complaints involved a loose dog. An increase in dogs congregating in one site is highly likely to increase these incidents and risks.

This site is directly between two areas with high frequency of children: the soccer and baseball fields, and the pond area. Previously considered sites were eliminated from consideration due to the proximity to areas where children play (Lindau Farm site, Town Center and McMahon).  We respectfully ask you to afford the same consideration to the children who play at the fields and Springs Brook Park.

The proposed dog park will be approximately 40 feet from the VA Golf Course. We find errant golf balls in the area of the proposed parking lot and dog park. There is a risk for a person, dog, or car to be unintentionally hit by a ball.

The access road is narrow and winding, with a blind spot at the entrance of the proposed parking lot. This road poses safety risks to pedestrians, cyclists, and dogs.

An increase in dogs year-round will cause additional water quality issues at SBP and also further increase littering on trails and in the pond area.

NOISE CONCERNS

A dog park anywhere would cause increased violation of the Bedford Dog By-Law (section 43.5.2: “No person shall own, keep or grant visiting privileges in this Town to any dog(s) which, by barking, howling, or in any similar manner, disturbs the peace and quiet of any other person.”)

Residents as far as Old Stagecoach Road already hear the lifeguard whistles at the pond during the summer. Close abutters can hear the SBP announcements or the coaches instructing the children playing on the fields. The noise of dogs barking will carry throughout the abutting neighborhoods.

Dogs barking, playing, and fighting as well as increased traffic and car doors slamming will destroy the serenity of a walk/jog/snowshoe through the woods and will disrupt golfers putting and teeing off. The 9/11 Memorial is an area that is used by VA patients and people who are looking for a little solitude and a peaceful place to meditate and reflect.

IN CONCLUSION

The Stanton Foundation funds ask for an intention from the Town to use the land for “no less than 99-year” for the dog park. If for whatever reason, (too much maintenance, too much nuisance, too much liability, or too costly), the town decides to close the dog park after it is built, we will have irreversibly destroyed the trees and wildlife habitats that so many of us cherish.

Converting this beautiful natural area into a fenced in dog park, cutting down trees, and creating a parking lot would severely detract from this amazing resource. This action would ruin a long-standing peaceful, year-round recreational amenity that Bedford residents already enjoy on a daily basis.

We strongly urge you to reject the proposed dog park site at Springs Brook Park.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Residents Opposed to the Proposed Springs Brook Park Dog Park Site

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