Temporary dog park considered

Local dog owners may soon have  a new limited recreational area for their canine companions, as planners focus on making a temporary dog park site operational for use this summer.
The City Council’s ad hoc committee for a dog park met Wednesday and chairman Chris Crean said that he was advised by Mayor Daniel Knapik that the city is in the process of acquiring an undisclosed site that might be suitable for a dog park.
“From my preliminary look, it looks like a great site” Crean said, which “has a great deal of potential.”
However, Crean said, the land in question may not be available for “half a year” and asked members of the Friends of the Westfield Dog Bark, who also serve on the ad hoc committee, if the Friends would be amenable to use water department land already under consideration as a temporary dog park .
The land is near the city’s wastewater treatment plant on Neck Road that is accessed from Union Street.
It includes an open field suitable both for an enclosed dog play area and for a parking area as well as a wooded area, which extends to the river where dogs that can be trusted off leash could run and explore.
There are no residential neighbors nearby, the property’s frontage is on the sparsely traveled dead-end Neck Road and it is a considerable distance from Union Street, the nearest busy roadway.
However, there is concern about odor from the nearby treatment plant, the area is reportedly subject to periodic flooding and the property has been used as an illegal dump.
Still, it was the leading contender for a dog park, although Crean said that city owned land on Cabot Street which has been mentioned as a possible site for a city-owned animal shelter “is still in play” but went on to say “that’s at least three years off.”
Ad hoc committee member City Councilor James Adams said “I know that we (the city) own property down by the DPW” on Ponders Hollow Road but said that he has not investigated it. “My understanding is there’s about 15 acres there” but it is believed to be all wooded land.
Crean said of the undisclosed site “I think it’s better than any of these other sites” but also said “I think the Union Street (Neck Road) site … seems like the best temporary site, to at least get things going.”
The Friends on the committee said that they thought their committee would be reluctant to invest – and subsequently abandon – a great deal of money in a temporary facility but said that the Neck Road property could be a dog run area with only limited temporary fencing, to be used at the owner’s risk, this summer, until the new property under consideration can be acquired and developed.
City Councilor Brian Sullivan, a member of the ad hoc group, said “It sounds like we could get into Union Street (Neck Road) temporarily without spending any (city) money except for DPW” for cleanup of the rubbish which has been dumped on the property.
“The clean up of Union Street (Neck Road) I don’t think would be a problem” Crean said and added “I find this to be a great Boy Scout project.”
Crean, whose two sons are members of Boy Scout Troop #109 of St. Mary’s, said “I’ve got 15 kids ready to work.”
He said “I’m gong to suggest to Dan (Knapik) that we keep that area as an open run area, do some clean up and fix up, and then I’m going to push him on the other area and get that rolling along.” He said the mayor hopes to make an announcement about “the other area” within weeks.
He said that he will also speak with members of the city’s law department to see what has to be done before dog owners can use the Neck Road land with city sanction and will not schedule the next meeting of the ad hoc committee until he has some answers.

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