By Jaime Craven
Following a progress report on the dog park development on December 4, the Selectmen advised the ad hoc Dog Park Task Force to postpone their application for funding until after choosing and confirming the perfect site. As many as 12 sites have been considered at various points during the planning process thus far. Though the Task Force had managed to whittle the number down to one – Springs Brook Park Site C – they have now reopened consideration on seven sites previously eliminated.
“It’s important to not do what happened at the beginning [of the Task Force’s charge],” warned Selectman Caroline Fedele, who is the liaison to the Task Force. She went on, “There was a list of sites” – which was given to the Task Force by the Town without prior evaluation – “and there was a lot of waste of time and spinning around.” She urged her fellow Selectmen to help eliminate sites from the shortlist rather than leaving the evaluation entirely to the Task Force.
Selectman Margot Fleischman expressed support for the 2-acre Springs Brook (A) site that abuts the VA golf course, citing a pre-existing infrastructure upon which the dog park could rely. Selectman Ed Pierce, however, warned of pushback from the Arbor Resources Committee, as a Springs Brook dog park would require extensive tree removal. Meanwhile, Fedele herself suggested the VA Garages, as the Selectmen have been aiming to demolish the unused garages for years and repurpose the area for recreational use.
Laurie Walsh, chair of the Task Force, replied that the VA Garages site was originally eliminated because of its residential abutters; Springs Brook Park would be less intrusive on that front. “[We’re] thinking about how we can make this so that there are no disruptions to people’s homes and lives,” she said.
The hour-and-a-half presentation and discussion concluded with the Selectmen leaning back from signing an official letter of intent, which the Task Force needs in order to apply for funding from the Stanton Foundation. Before then, suggested Fedele, the Task Force should identify just one or two sites; refine the budget based on those sites; and “flush out” any subsequent community concerns. Fleischman suggested a follow-up to Police Chief Robert Bongiorno’s memo about dog parks in Arlington, Chelmsford, Melrose and Wilmington as a good place to start.
The next meeting of the ad hoc Dog Park Task Force is scheduled for 7:30 pm on Wednesday, December 13 at Town Hall. Click here to read the agenda.