Easthampton panel recommends dog park site off Oliver Street

  • A map showing two dog park sites off of Oliver Street at a November meeting on possible dog park locations on city land in Easthampton. Bera Dunau—Staff Writer

Staff Writer
Published: 2/3/2020 10:27:47 PM

EASTHAMPTON — A site has been selected for a proposed dog park on city land, with a public hearing on the proposal set for next month.

The site is off Oliver Street, across the street from the solar field project there. Last week, the City Council’s property committee voted to ask the mayor to seek a design grant from the Stanton Foundation for the site pending the council’s vote.

The committee also voted to schedule a public hearing on the site for March 18.

“If people want to support a dog park they really need to get involved,” City Councilor Owen Zaret said Monday. Zaret has been a champion of bringing a dog park to the city.

The Stanton Foundation provides grants for the design of dog parks for up to $25,000 and 100 percent of the cost.

For a number of residents, however, Oliver Street was not their first choice for where to site the dog park.

In a public meeting going over seven different sites and five different locations in November, the public expressed a preference for the Oliver Street and Nonotuck Park locations. However, Nonotuck Park definitely garnered the most support, as it received the most votes and was the only site that people expressed support for during the meeting.

Berkshire Design Group was hired using Community Preservation Act money last year to explore dog park sites on city-owned land, and participated in November’s meeting.

“It makes sense from a site selection (perspective) that Nonotuck was ranked pretty high,” said City Planner Jeffrey Bagg, at the property committee meeting. “People wanted it kind of close to town but away from residences.”

But at the meeting John Mason, the city’s director of parks and recreation, noted issues with the Nonotuck Park site, including concerns with tree removal and the park’s infrastructure.

Last year, the parks and recreation commission voted against the idea of putting a dog park in Nonotuck Park.

Zaret told the Gazette on Monday that siting a dog park in Nonotuck is “not viable.”

“It puts a huge burden on our parks and rec department,” Zaret said.

Bagg said that based on input from parks and recreation, Berkshire Design was instructed to draw up a preliminary schematic design just for an Oliver Street site. Bagg also said that a preliminary construction estimate was drawn up for the site, which came in at $275,000. This includes $108,000 for surfacing and $47,000 for site demolition and preparation.

Both the construction estimate and the preliminary schematic design are required to apply for the design grant, Bagg said.

The Stanton Foundation also gives construction grants for dog parks for up to $225,000, and 90 percent of the park’s “hard” construction costs.

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


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