Keep former hospital grounds ‘dog-centric’
To the editor:
I feel dogs and their owners have suffered some unfair criticisms in the Gazette’s recent Opinion pages. In a September guest column, an Oct. 6 letter to the editor and an Oct. 8 editorial, dogs and their owners are portrayed as irresponsible, aloof and uncaring.
This is far from the truth. While I feel for residents’ recent injurious encounters, I’ve been a regular user of the dog park for about the last six years, and I’ve seen civility and courteousness in abundance. I’ve never witnessed any event similar to what’s been described. More often, I see dog owners try and succeed to defer to runners and bikers.
It is possible that as dog owners and caring citizens we can do more. I’m optimistic enough to believe that we can band together to improve our collective reputation. The park is important enough to us that we will respect others’ desires to use the space and keep our dogs’ bodies and poop out of its rights of way.
Additionally, we shouldn’t forget this is already a shared space. Running is limited to running groups on Tuesday nights, Smith often has cross-country meets on weekends in the fall, and the park also serves as a disc golf course. There are many trails to explore in and around Northampton and the Pioneer Valley (even right on the other side of the Mill River), but the former state hospital grounds are dog-centric, and should be kept that way.