Marlene Pearson: Criticizes Northampton dog park process

Monday, November 13, 2017
Criticizes process for Northampton dog park

Kudos to Amherst for including its residents at the inception of its dog park project while forthrightly reducing potential nuisance conditions such as noise, traffic and location (“Dog park task force to seek CPA funds,” Oct. 30).

Sadly, we Northampton dog park neighbors weren’t so lucky, informed only seven days before the public hearings to address the business permit and conservation/wetland concerns (“Boards approve dog park,” Oct. 13). My “ground zero” neighborhood was disregarded by our city and business owner for 18 planning months, making us feel like we were paltry collateral damage.

Applause for the Amherst dog park for being both physically accessible by locating near a public bus route and financially accessible by making it free. All people, rich or poor, deserve equal access to positive community-building experiences. A dog park should be inclusive, not exclusive.

Congratulations to Amherst for utilizing best practices in planning and development by being proactive and preventive in its task force approach rather than the time-honored Northampton modus operandi of “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission” damage-control approach.

Hooray Amherst for working collaboratively as a team to bring this project to fruition with necessary transparency. Northampton didn’t advertise its plans to acquire an easement from the business owner for a future bike path resulting in state-funded revenue for the city.

Was this a conflict of interest when the business permit was approved? People using this free public bike path next to this dog park may not even be able to afford a membership. What an ironic twist of fate for many people.

Cheers to Amherst for encouraging the expansion of community-based projects that unequivocally support, value, and include all of its residents. Jeers to Northampton for none of the above.

Marlene Pearson