While waiting for an official meeting to be planned by the state Department of Conservation (DCR), Jamaica Plain dog owners have held their own meeting to discuss potential locations for a new dog park (or two) in the neighborhood.
Since the abrupt closing of Beecher Street Park to unleashed dogs over the summer, City and state officials have been engaged by residents upset about the lack of dog parks in the neighborhood.
City Councilor Matt O’Malley met with DCR on behalf of his constituents in September to discuss establishing a dog park. Since that meeting, DCR has said that it is in the process of discussing the logistics of holding a public meeting regarding a potential off-leash dog park in the JP area.
City Councilor Matt O’Malley said that he has reached out repeatedly to DCR regarding that planning process, and that the last time they communicated was about two weeks ago.
“I’d really like to see [a community meeting regarding dog parks in Jamaica Plain], I want this meeting to happen this month to get the ball rolling and at least have something scheduled,” O’Malley said. “They’ve been responsive to me, but this is obviously going to take some time. I’m on top of it, and will continue to stay on top of it.”
A resident meeting regarding JP dog parks was held on Jan. 23. The Southwest Corridor Park Management Advisory Council (PMAC) is a monthly meeting with DCR and the police departments for the community of Southwest Corridor Park users and neighbors. A sub-committee of PMAC was created and the Jan. 23 gathering was its first meeting.
Five JP dog owners attended, and the group discussed potential locations in the Southwest Corridor Park and talked through pros and cons of each, according to Eve Kaniasty, local resident and active dog owner.
The residents at the meeting agreed that their best approach for getting a dog park is to work towards multiple areas for dogs as to avoid overuse of one park.
“We need more than one dog park in JP,” said Jenny Jones, a Southwest Corridor Park Conservancy volunteer. “This is necessary to serve everyone in the community, and also to put less stress on one neighborhood from traffic and noise.”
Kaniasty said that the group was unsure whether the proposed DCR meeting would be focused solely on Southwest Corridor or not.
Mark Steffen from DCR told the Gazette that the proposed meeting would be one in a series of meetings across the state for different communities looking to create dog parks.
“We are in the middle of that planning process right now,” Steffen said. “Once a date and location has been finalized, the agency will reach out to stakeholders to inform the public of the meeting to ensure a robust turnout and discussion.”
Kaniasty believes that it is likely that the group of JP dog owners will need to raise the funds to build and maintain a dog park; two of the attendees at their meeting have expertise with grant writing and fundraising, and said they would be willing to lend a hand when need be.
The group recommends to all residents interested in getting involved in this process to visit potential dog park sites in order to be able to provide feedback at the eventual DCR meeting. They also recommend attending the City’s Imagining Franklin Park meeting on Feb. 16 at Franklin Park Golf Course function room to represent the interests of dog owners.