Commentary: Don’t ruin neighborhood with a dog park

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.

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  • Adam Ofer

    To the person who wrote this article…. have you spent any time at a local dog park? There isn’t incessant barking, none of them are “ruining” their neighborhood, and none of them are full of feces. There is a code of conduct and a sense of community which encourages everyone to clean up after their dogs. The type of people attracted to such locations are typically friendly, cordial and respect nature. You have to look at this as a necessary evolution to keep Weston competitive. When I moved here 15 years ago I was enticed by the allure of the two acre zoning and lack of commercial property. Even the well and septic on my land contributed to the reclusive quaint town feel that drew me in. But the reality is that the new generation of young families who have many choices where to reside are not necessarily attracted to those same things. They want convenience; they place more emphasis on easy-living, social interactions and being part of a community. It’s going to be a really long time (and probably a really big community debate) before we have natural gas and sewer lines running to every resident. But this dog park is one simple but potentially effective gesture we can make to show that we are a progressive town that is seeking to attract some young families. My family is looking forward to getting to know some of our Weston neighbors while our cute pooches sniff each others’ #!?%s!

    • KaD

      LIES. I’ve been to them, idiot owners don’t leash even when they have a pit bull and few pick up.

    • Tim Winter

      I’m not from the area or the state for that matter but I am involved in getting a dog park built in my neighborhood. We have heard these same tired misinformed opposing views. Get data to back your case. Go door to door and get a yes or no vote. I’ll bet more will be in favor than opposed. We also did some demographics research to determine how many households have children and those that don’t. We then compared that number to the national average of dog ownership (only because the local data was not available). We found there were more households with dogs than children. and when we counted all the playgrounds in the area compared to the number of dog parks. We found there was a huge disparity. Our point was not that there are too many playgrounds but that a large community is being underserved. In regards to property values, we asked several realtors about this and all of them said it was either a wash or that it increased values. We have a rebuttal for every complaint. Best of luck in your efforts

  • Animals24-7

    Having tracked the off-leash dog park issue for more than 25 years and dog attacks for nearly 35, and having frequently visited dog parks with my own dogs all over the country, watching their cycles of opening and closure, I have observed from considerable experience that the existence of an off-leash dog park can be measured in half-lives. First, an off-leash dog park is for a time an initially controversial community asset. As the controversy over siting it fades, it is used more and more, and helps realtors to sell near-by homes to dog owners. But then the owners of “bully breeds” find out about the off-leash dog park and begin bringing their dogs to terrorize and often injure or even kill the rest. Violent incidents ensue, involving the bully-breed owners and other people trying to protect their dogs. Typically the community is unwilling or unable to enforce breed-specific legislation to protect the majority of dogs and their owners. The off-leash dog park falls out of use by any except the bully-breed owners, and becomes also associated with drug trafficking and other drug-related crime. Within just a few years the off-leash dog park goes from community asset to detriment. Eventually it is permanently closed and redeveloped in a manner that excludes dogs.

  • KaD

    No ones dog ever died for lack of a dog park. Plenty of dogs have died because of the dog park. If you want you dog to run free, purchase an acreage for it. Or choose a breed that fits your lifestyle and circumstances. Dog parks are loud all hours they are open and reek of dog feces the owners don’t pick up. Far too many of them already.

  • carol

    I couldn’t care less about a dog park, BUT Weston residents should not pay for it. Also, we are mostly all sitting on two acres. Isn’t that enough room for mommy and doggie? Please

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