Residents persuade mayor to back off Northampton kennel site

  • Maggie Leonard speaks about her concerns during a meeting of residents of the Chapel Street neighborhood with Mayor David Narkewicz concerning the proposed location of the animal control kennel in the field next to the Ray Ellerbrook athletic fields Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Residents of the Chapel Street neighborhood gather for a meeting where Mayor David Narkewicz explained the proposed location of the animal control kennel in the field next to the Ray Ellerbrook athletic fields during a neighborhood meeting Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Benjamin Spencer speaks about his concerns during a meeting of residents of the Chapel Street neighborhood with Mayor David Narkewicz concerning the proposed location of the animal control kennel in the field next to the Ray Ellerbrook athletic fields Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mayor David Narkewicz explains the proposed site and drawing for the animal control kennel in the neighborhood near Chapel street next to the Ray Ellerbrook field, to Mark Nicoletti before a neighborhood meeting Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Benjamin Spencer speaks about his concerns during a meeting of residents of Northampton’s Chapel Street neighborhood with Mayor David Narkewicz concerning the proposed location of the animal control kennel in the field next to the Ray Ellerbrook athletic fields, Wednesday evening. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Residents of the Chapel Street neighborhood gather for a meeting where Mayor David Narkewicz explained the proposed location of the animal control kennel in the field next to the Ray Ellerbrook athletic fields during a neighborhood meeting Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Konstantin Vatrenko speaks about his concerns during a meeting of residents of Northampton’s Chapel Street neighborhood, as Mayor David Narkewicz listens, concerning the proposed location of the animal control kennel in the field next to the Ray Ellerbrook athletic fields, Wednesday evening. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Benjamin Spencer speaks about his concerns during a meeting of residents of the Chapel Street neighborhood with Mayor David Narkewicz concerning the proposed location of the animal control kennel in the field next to the Ray Ellerbrook athletic fields Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Melissa Frenier, who lives in the house behind her, speaks about her concerns during a meeting of residents of the Chapel Street neighborhood with Mayor David Narkewicz concerning the proposed location of the animal control kennel in the field next to the Ray Ellerbrook athletic fields Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mayor David Narkewicz explains the proposed site and drawing for the animal control kennel in the neighborhood near Chapel street next to the Ray Ellerbrook field during a neighborhood meeting Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Residents of the Chapel Street neighborhood gather for a meeting where Mayor David Narkewicz explained the proposed location of the animal control kennel in the field next to the Ray Ellerbrook athletic fields during a neighborhood meeting Wednesday evening, May 5, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/6/2021 8:20:09 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Rain did not deter about 50 people from gathering at Ray Ellerbrook Field on Wednesday evening to talk about a city dog kennel proposed in the surrounding neighborhood.

Many voiced concerns about the project, and in the end, Mayor David Narkewicz said he would not put the kennel on the proposed site off Chapel Street, and instead would look for another site.

“It’s not a NIMBY issue,” resident Barbara Blumenthal said, explaining her concern. “We don’t want it in anyone’s backyard.”

Currently, when the city’s animal control officer or a police officer has an animal, like a lost dog, there is no city-owned space to temporarily house it. Animals are taken to Wagging Tails Pet Resort in Hadley, among other places, said Narkewicz.

Residents at the meeting did not dispute the need for the facility. The animal control officer’s situation without a local kennel is “distressing,” said Benjamin Spencer, a Rust Avenue resident who lives right next to the property in question. “This is truly in the center of our neighborhood,” he said.

Noise was a major concern for many. Melissa Frenier said if her dog got lost, “she’s going to be scared and barking.” She worried the kennel would be loud.

Konstantin Vatrenko was also concerned about noise, and with the possibility of the project in the neighborhood, he thinks anxiety has increased. In the past several years, Vatrenko, a doctor, said he lost several colleagues to suicide and he emphasized the mental health benefit of having a home in a quiet place where he can rest. “This is a health hazard,” he said. The crowd clapped.

“We could envision a school, not a kennel,” Chapel Street resident Marie Frank said. “I beseech you to look more closely at alternative sites.”

It’s “short-sighted,” from a land-use perspective, said Ilia Karatsoreos. He took issue with taking away open green space.

Narkewicz took a poll: By a show of hands, he asked, how many of you would rather see housing? Most of the crowd raised their hands. “Affordable housing,” one person shouted.

At the start of the meeting, Narkewicz gave a presentation about the project. The facility would not be open to the public, he emphasized, it would be well insulated, and have at most eight dogs.

“This is really a small facility,” he said.

The city-owned parcel was part of the former state hospital property and was given to the city for municipal use, Narkewicz said. As far as city uses go for the land, he said, “I believe this would be a low-impact, unobtrusive use,” he said.

It’s not the first time a neighborhood has said no to a kennel. Several years ago, the city explored putting an animal control kennel on Glendale Road, but residents said they did not want it there, Narkewicz said at an April City Council meeting.

He’s not yet sure where the kennel will be sited, he said Thursday. “We will continue the search.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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