Back to the drawing board: Easthampton commission rejects latest dog park site

  • Easthampton Municipal Building, 50 Payson Avenue GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/3/2020 4:30:46 PM
Modified: 12/3/2020 4:30:35 PM

EASTHAMPTON — A dog park site near Brookside Cemetery has been rejected by the Parks and Recreation Commission, following the objections of numerous neighbors.

“I believe that the proposed dog park would diminish, not improve the area,” Eileen Jager, who lives near the proposed site, said at the commission’s Monday meeting.

The commission agreed and voted 4-0 not to explore the site. Two of the board’s other members, Chairman Ed Piziak and member Andrew Hunter, were absent, and another, James Ramsey, abstained from voting.

“It just seems like this might not be the ideal space,” member Eric Poulin said.

Residents raised several concerns about the site when they had a chance to speak on Monday, including tree cutting, having dogs near the cemetery, disturbing a peaceful area and the potential health dangers of dog waste.

“These woods along with this pond are a real treasure in Easthampton,” said Faune Albert, one of the neighbors who spoke against the site.

In February 2019, the city provided $9,000 of Community Preservation Act funding to identify possible sites for a dog park on city-owned land. A site plan and cost estimates for a dog park site off Oliver Street were initially drawn up, but those plans were nixed by opposition on the City Council.

The goal with identifying a dog park site has been to apply for a grant from the Stanton Foundation, whose grants pay up to 100% of the cost of the design of a dog park, up to $25,000, and 90% of the “hard” construction costs of a park, which include labor and materials, capped at a limit of $225,000.

City Councilor Owen Zaret, who has been a strong advocate for a dog park on city-owned land, said that he doesn’t have another site in mind at this time.

“I think we need to regroup,” said Zaret, who spoke of the need for dog park advocates to partner more closely with the parks and recreation officials going forward.

He also spoke of the need to provide more money for the city’s parks, which he described as having been historically underfunded.

“They really need as much funding and support as possible,” Zaret said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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