A plan to construct an off-leash public dog park in Weston has been steadily moving forward for months, but the town hasn’t guaranteed a space for the canines just yet.
The park, as well as an attached driveway and parking lot, would take up approximately seven acres of a 36-acre parcel on Davis Hill Road, known as the Moore property.
If the dog park is ultimately approved, approximately three acres would be fenced in and used for the actual park.
In June 2016, the Board of Selectmen unanimously recommended sending the dog park proposal to the Planning and Zoning Commission and Conservation Commission for review.
Since then, the Conservation Commission, as well as the Parks and Recreation Commission, have approved a plan for the park. P&Z will be discussing the park at its next meeting, on Monday, April 3.
A group of citizens, many who live near the Moore property, have recently begun publicly expressing opposition to the proposed park.
“I don’t know why they want to take this pristine land and ruin it,” said Joanne Butler of Richmond Hill Road. “It’s a lovely spot and to construct a dog park and irrevocably change that land seems like a bad idea to me.”
Butler called the area surrounding Davis Hill Road a “sleepy area” and said it doesn’t really lead to anywhere besides other residential roads.
“We understood when we bought our homes that it was going to be a 15-minute drive to get groceries. We like the solitude,” Butler said.
Butler is a member of a recently formed group called “Stop Weston Dog Park.” The group has a Facebook page of the same name that has attracted 50 members since it went live on March 1.
“We’re late to the game trying to stop this but it doesn’t mean we’re not sincere,” said Butler. “We understand that people want to run their dogs off-leash, but everyone has two-acre zoning and there are other parks nearby.”
John Matluck of Lords Highway East said dog parks always have problems, whether it’s dog fights or dog bites.
“Who ends up being liable if someone sues?” asked Matluck. “They will always end up suing the town. It seems like a poor use of town funds.”
Matluck said the park will end up attracting people from other towns, which could lead to an increase in vandalism and petty crimes in the area.
“I know the town has said they’d do a good job monitoring the dog park, but I don’t think there are enough people for that,” he said. “Geographically, Weston is pretty big and I know there aren’t many police officers patrolling on duty at all times.”
Dania Anderson of Richmond Hill Road said she doesn’t see why a dog park is necessary in Weston.
“I think this negatively affects the people who live near the dog park, and I think that should trump the pipe dream of people who don’t live near the property,” said Anderson.
Anderson is concerned about noise not only from dogs but also from kids who may frequent the park as a place to hang out.
“I grew up in Weston,” said Anderson. “I know that wherever kids can find a place to hang out and party, they will.
Maria Calamito-Proto, founder of the Weston Dog Park Committee, a non-profit group that is spearheading and predominantly funding the proposed dog park, said misinformation about it is being spread.
“When it’s done, I really think people will be pleasantly surprised,” she said. “It’s set very far back off the road. People behind the park are going to see woods, not a dog park, and from the road you won’t be seeing dogs running around.”
Calamito-Proto said there is a five-acre buffer zone from the park to any connecting property, so area homeowners won’t hear the noise from the park.
“Nobody has reached out to us [the Weston Dog Park Committee] to express their concerns,” she said. “There have been complaints to the town, but we’d be able to explain the project to people.”
She said the point of the dog park is to get people from town together to socialize while their dogs get exercise.
“We’re Weston residents and we care about this town very much,” she said. “We want to have a place for Westonites to be able to meet and hang out together. Other towns in the area have dog parks of their own and I think it would be beneficial for Weston.”
Calamito-Proto said it’s important for Westonites who support the dog park to come to the P&Z meeting on April 3.
“We need supporters to come out in numbers and show Planning and Zoning there is a lot of support for this park,” she said.