Board approves dog park conditions

WESTFIELD – The Conservation Commission voted last night to allow the city to proceed with developments of a dog park at the Armbrook Flood Control area, despite that fact that a number of issues have yet to be resolved.
The commission voted to attach a number of conditions to address environmental impact on the impoundment pond resource area following the close of the public meeting on the project.
City Engineer Mark Cressotti reported that the state Natural Heritage and Endangered Species agency issued a “negative impact” report pertaining to the park’s development on the environment supporting flora and fauna.
“There is no adverse impact to that environment,” Cressotti said. “Hopefully, the commission will be able to resolve this issue tonight.”
Susan Phillips, Law Department supervisor, said that while a number of issues have yet to be resolved, those issues are not related to the Conservation Commissions environmental review.
“There is nothing that precludes you from acting on this application,” Phillips said.
Phillips said the city is still researching documents provided by the Flood Control Commission relative to use restriction of that land acquired through federal grants and that it is assessing vehicles to allow the Westfield Dog Bark Association to serve as the dog park administration.
“The city is looking at public-private partnerships used to establish dog parks in other communities, such as Arlington and New Bedford, where the city will continue to own the dirt and the Dog Bark maintain the program,” Phillips said. “We may issue a request for proposals to establish the city’s requirements for hours of operation, which should be the same as any municipal park, as well as who is responsible for (the different levels of) maintenance.”
Commission Chairman Dr. David Doe defined the board’s scope of review, which appeared to be leading to security and access issues and the fact that the impoundment pond is being used as a boundary of the park, with a chain-link fence running down to the water line.
“Our jurisdiction is only the fence in the buffer, if it will have an adverse impact on that resource area,” Doe said.
The board voted 5-0-1 to allow that use with conditions to ameliorate the environmental impact. Dr. James Phillips, who recently resigned as chairman of the Flood Control Commission and who was appointed to the commission by the City Council Thursday, abstained from the vote because of the concerns raised by the Flood Control Commission about dog park use of the flood control area.

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