By Jeffrey Epstein
The Selectmen heard opinions about the proposed dog park in a listening session Monday night, June 18. Some 60 people turned out for the session in Town Hall’s multipurpose room, most of whom delivered comments against the suggested dog park site.
The ad-hoc Dog Park Task Force, which considered several different locations for a dog park, had previously delivered its recommendations to the Selectmen on May 29 (https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2018/05/two-dog-park-options-presented-to-selectmen/). It ultimately suggested only one site, the so-called “Site A-Alternate” in Springs Brook Park.
Another site, near municipal garages close to the VA Hospital, was included in the original task force report, but has since been rejected by the task force and therefore is not before the Selectmen, said Chair William Moonan. This led to some confusion among the many people objecting to the dog park, some of whom did not realize the municipal garage site was not on the table.
In addition, at least one family’s stated concern involved a pending real estate closing on a property abutting a different site in the park, known as “Site D” and previously eliminated by the task force. As a courtesy to this family, the Selectmen voted unanimously to formally refuse that particular site.
The objections to the site at Springs Brook Park generally involve concerns over the safety of children; the noise from dogs, cars, people, etc.; and the environmental impact to the park, such as the possible loss of trees. The comments at the meeting were similar to a letter sent to the Selectmen on May 26 and published in The Citizen on June 13, https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2018/06/letter-to-the-editor-june-13-2018-residents-opposed-to-locating-the-dog-park-at-springs-brook-park/.
A few people who spoke raised concerns over other matters, such as the operating costs of the dog park. The task force did consider certain possible costs in evaluating sites. However, there is not even a formal proposal in hand, so operating costs and other factors are not known. The task force only investigated possible locations where a dog park might work.
The Selectmen, considering the task force report and the comments of the public, will eventually decide how to proceed with the concept. Moonan did remind the meeting, however, that they are also trying to get in much work before summer vacations, including interviews with candidates for the new Town Manager, and ultimately filling that role.
Town Manager Richard Reed is scheduled to end his service August 17.