Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD) has announced that because of complaints, the Beecher Street Park is no longer to be used as a space for dogs to run off-leash. The site has been used as an unofficial dog park for many years.
Meanwhile, Jamaica Plain City Councilor Matt O’Malley wrote a letter to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) urging that a space in the Southwest Corridor Park be found for an alternative site for a dog park.
The news was announced via a letter from BPRD Commissioner Chris Cook to the Beecher Street Park community. He wrote that the small size of the site and the proximity to residences and community gardens did not lend the site to be a suitable dog park. Beecher Street Park will still be open, but all dogs must be on a leash.
The use of the space as a dog park has both opponents and proponent, which was on display during a community meeting in January and subsequent complaints, correspondence, and community organizing. Dog owners who use the park feel that the dense Jamaica Plain neighborhood lacks areas for dogs, but some abutting residents to the park have raised concerns. Residents have complained to BPRD for issues related to dog smells and sounds.
A group of residents who wanted to maintain the dog park use of the area formed from the meeting in January. The group is led by dog owner and resident Nina Robinson.
In response to the recent decision to discontinue the use of the dog park, Robinson said that the group was disappointed.
“Since the community meeting called by the Parks Department in January, dog park users had taken several steps to address the concerns raised by neighbors during that meeting,” Robinson said. She said the group made efforts to reduce noise, conducted clean-up days, and weeded the area along the fence with the Paul Gore Street Gore garden users, per the gardeners’ request.
Robinson said group members were particularly disappointed that they were given almost no advance notice about the decision to end the dog park use of the area.
“Neighborhood residents rely on this space to exercise their dogs and now have very little time to find an alternative,” Robinson said. “It has also been noted that the closure of the Beecher lot without first having an alternative space set up will lead to more dogs off-leash in the area, which could lead to community safety concerns.”
The letter from Cook stated that the fence at the park will be replaced with a City-approved one that will not have a gate. Cook said that work on the site will begin soon, and in the fall, turf restoration will take place.
Cook wrote that BPRD has worked with partner agencies to find alternative spaces in Jamaica Plain for a dog park, but have thus far been unsuccessful.
City Councilor Matt O’Malley, who represents Jamaica Plain, wrote a letter to state Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy requesting a process to find a suitable replacement for the Beecher Street dog park along the DCR-managed Southwest Corridor Park.
“I have long maintained that certain areas along the Southwest Corridor would be ideal locations for a dog park,” O’Malley wrote. “It is centrally located, removed from residential dwellings, and offers the necessary space to allow for exercise and socialization of pets. I cannot underscore enough the benefits of a dog park: they are proven catalysts to enhance public safety and promote community.”
O’Malley said he while he was disappointed that the prohibition at Beecher Street Park will be enacted before a suitable alternative is provided, but he understood the concerns of some of the neighbors.
“The closure of the Beecher Street dog park is an opportunity that demands action,” O’Malley wrote. “Let’s make it happen.”
DCR has received O’Malley’s letter, and is in the process of coordinating a meeting between O’Malley and Roy to discuss the issue further.
In a statement, DCR spokesman Troy Wall said: “The Department of Conservation and Recreation always appreciates the opportunity to review ideas that have the potential to encourage new visitors to utilize, explore, and enjoy the Commonwealth’s state parks system.”