The members of the dog park opposition are tired of hearing themselves described as selfish, dog-hating residents. This nasty description is offered up as a deflection to the real issue here, namely the possible destruction of a secluded, pristine and quiet neighborhood by a private self-interest group. This group values a dog’s right to run off-leash more than the rights of neighboring residents to enjoy their homes and property.
In 2015, Mark Harper, Weston’s animal control officer, demanded a tough leash law, claiming that without it he was powerless to enforce the signs at our local parks that prohibit dogs. Harper said, “Unleashed dogs that attack and injure other dogs or people are a public safety issue.”
Fast forward to the April 3, 2017, Weston Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Now, apparently, unleashed dogs (and their owners) in a fenced area is a desirable thing, with total disregard for the illnesses they breed dog-to-dog or in the feces they deposit.
Indeed, they now argue that Realtors recommend pooch parks as an amenity in a town that appears to be boring. Boring? We take pride in our two-acre zoning, our excellent schools, and our tranquil neighborhoods — the very “amenities” that drew people here in the first place.
Can’t find a suitable place for Mommy-Me-And-Fido-Makes-Three? Then drive to an area dog park. Please don’t ruin our secluded neighborhood with your insensitive proposal.
Few of us would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a house near a dog kennel, but this will be the effect of such a proposal on our neighborhood. The sound of barking dogs will permeate our surroundings even from a half-mile away.
And woe be to all residents living near any of the town’s parks and open spaces. What a precedent! Harper advises to expect “change.” This isn’t mere “change.” This is life-altering.
This private interest group claims it can raise upwards of $70,000. When the trees are cut down and no more money appears, then what?
Harper is neither an expert in urban planning/land use nor an engineer who can satisfy the need for studies proving the safety of such a park. Indeed, the facts cited by Harper and dog park proponents are specious, held together with verbal duct tape.
Our concerns are objective and need to be seriously considered. We want to protect our quality of life, our health, the safety of our families and our neighborhood. We ask people reading this commentary to ask themselves truthfully: Would you want this in your neighborhood? The town of Weston needs to determine the difference between the words “want” and “need” and act accordingly to ensure that the things we treasure most about Weston remain intact.
Call for studies that will settle once and for all the feasibility of this proposal. Ask professionals who have had actual experience in these matters. Our town leaders should not be held hostage to a small private interest group, but instead should act courageously.