Most want to retain Beecher St. dog park, but with changes

January 29, 2016
By

City officials and about 100 community members gathered at the Connolly Branch Library on Jan. 11 to have a discussion about the current status of the unofficial Beecher Street dog park with most attendees agreeing to retain its purpose, but reconsider certain rules and regulations.

The meeting focused on the existing problems with the park, and there were suggestions and feedback from the community about what they would like to see done with the space.

“We have not made any decisions regarding this park, and no decisions will be made here tonight,” said Rob Rottenbucher, chief engineer at the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD). He went on to say that the wooden fence at the park, which was erected without City approval, is structurally unsafe and needs to be removed.

“Wooden fences don’t meet our standards, and now that we’re aware of this fence, we have to remove it,” said Rottenbucher.

The wooden fence borders the front edge of the park, and contains the area so that dogs can run off leash within the park without risk of running into traffic. The fence was still standing at the Gazette deadline.

One resident said “This [park] has been a problem for 15 years, how could you not know about this?”

Rottenbucher said that it is up to the “will of the people” to inform them about problems in the park. He said that BPRD has received calls and emails to the office from residents with complaints.

Residents expressed frustration at the meeting about having to “self-police” the park, saying that it was disruptive and unfair to them.

Boston Police is responsible for policing local parks, like Beecher Street Park. BPRD has an average of 10 to 12 park rangers, which only patrol Emerald Necklace Parks.

There are three official dog parks in Boston (Dorchester, South End, and North End), all of which are organized and paid for by the community, according to an email from Ryan Woods, spokesperson for BPRD.

Several dog owners asked if they would be given notice about when the fence would be removed. Woods said he would try to give at least two weeks notice to park users about when the fence is to be removed, but that if the fence is found to be an “imminent danger,” it would have to be removed as soon as possible.

The most prevalent complaints from abutters were about dogs barking, a strong odor of dog waste, and excessive dust in the air in the summertime. One abutter said he couldn’t use his backyard anymore because his daughter was afraid of the dogs, and several abutters said they couldn’t open their windows in the summertime because of the dust and noise from the park.

The group came to a consensus that certain suggestions could be helpful for both dog owners and abutters.

Yessy Feliz, owner of Tails, a local doggy daycare and pet supply store, suggested that the park post hours of operation to alleviate some tensions in the area. She also said that Tails will offer a free class to all dog owners about dog safety.

“Dogs are going be dogs,” she said. “Anything can trigger a dog’s behavior.”

Many dog owners seemed willing to take responsibility for the maintenance and safety in the park, and agreed that the community it generates is an important part of Jamaica Plain.

Nina Robinson, dog owner and resident at Paul Gore Street, said that she is very much in support of the dog park community.

“We’re very aware of concerns and complaints and are very willing to work with the neighbors,” she said. She announced that she would be spearheading a community-led group of dog owners to find solutions and work with the City. The group has facilitated a community park clean-up and created a survey for group members to contribute their skills to improving the park. To join her mailing list, email robinson.nina@gmail.com.

To send any comments or complaints regarding the Beecher Street Park, email parks@boston.gov or call 311.

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