Westfield Newsroom


Marilyn Sandidge, vice president of Friends of Westfield Dog Bark, refers to an aerial image of Paper Mill Playground at a February 12 public meeting. (File photo by Carl E. Hartdegen)

Council seeks resident

input on dog park

Staff Writer

WESTFIELD – The City Council voted Thursday night to allow creation of a special advisory committee to identify a location for a permanent dog park in the city.
The council’s vote authorized council President Christopher Keefe to name members of the advisory committee. Keefe named Ward 6 Councilor Christopher Crean to serve as the chairman, with At-large Councilors James R. Adams and Brian Sullivan as members representing the council.
Crean said that citizens interested in serving on the special advisory committee should contact him and that he will forward candidates to Keefe for his consideration of appointment of the citizen members of the committee, perhaps as soon as one of the council’s March sessions.
Crean, Adams and Sullivan all attended a public meeting conducted by the Parks & Recreation Commission on Feb. 12 in the City Council Chambers pertaining to a proposal to use part of the Paper Mill Playground for a dog park. Crean and Adams sponsored the motion requesting the council and Keefe to establish the special advisory committee.
Crean said that the citizens attending that Feb. 12 session, both resident of the Paper Mill Road area and the Friends of the Westfield Dog Bark, agreed that a dedicated dog park is needed in the city. The issue if the location of that facility.
“The majority of people (attending the P&R session) are in favor of a dog park,” Crean said during the council discussion of the motion to establish the committee. “The Park & Recreation (Commission) did a good job trying to find a suitable location.
“We should be looking for a permanent location, looking at all city property,” he said.
“I’m asking for the special advisory committee because I want to keep the Friends of the Dig Bark involved in this process,” he said. “The more input we get, the better in the long run of doing it right. I just want to keep the cooperation moving forward.”
Sullivan said that he came out of the Feb. 12 session with a similar assessment to that of Crean.
“Talking with people, it was a very good meeting,” he said. “We just need to find a place.”
Adams said that the assessment of a suitable location may extend beyond just city-owned property.
“There may be private land available,” Adams said.
The council had approved new City Council Rules just minutes before the dog park board motion was debated. Under the new council rules the council president, with consent of the council can establish Ad Hoc Committees, composed of just City Council members and the Special Advisory Committees whose membership can extend beyond just council members.
Crean, during discussion of those rules, had objected that a council president could establish those two boards as a means of delaying council action on an issue. Crean’s argument led the addition of language that the president can only establish the Ad Hoc or Special Advisory committees with a majority vote of the council and that the committees have a sunset clause, no longer than a year, unless extended by a vote of the council.

Dan Moriarty can be reached [email protected]

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