JP dog park proves elusive

After an unofficial dog park closed this summer in Jamaica Plain, City and state officials began a search to find an area for one in the neighborhood, but scant progress has been made.

Since the closing of Beecher Street Park to unleashed dogs, many dog owners have had nowhere to go to let their dogs run off-leash. Nina Robinson, a local dog owner who was involved in the dog park community at Beecher Street, said that many people have had to travel around 20 minutes to get to a location where their dog can run freely. She also said some people allow their dogs to run off-leash in areas where it is not legal, feeling that they have no other choice.

“Everyone recognizes that this is not ideal for the dogs or folks that may be using the same space for another purpose,” Robinson said, “but it is the only option for many people who have dogs who need a good amount of exercise on a daily basis.”

Robinson also said that dog owners who used to use Beecher Street Park now miss the community that the dog park fostered.

“Many people formed great connections with other dog park users who they saw on a regular basis at the park, but it has been difficult to maintain these friendships now that there is not a central meeting place for dog owners in JP,” Robinson said.

Local dog owners are not pleased with the time the process is taking to establish a suitable location for the dog park.

“The general feeling is one of frustration about the fact that the process is taking so long and that there has been no communication about progress from any official sources,” said Robinson. “People do understand that processes like this take time, but feel it would be nice to hear updates in the meantime. Even if there isn’t much to report, it would be nice to hear that the issue is still being given attention.”

In September, City Councilor Matt O’Malley met with Leo Roy, commissioner of state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), to begin a conversation about establishing an official off-leash dog park in the Southwest Corridor, which DCR operates. O’Malley said the meeting went well, but has heard no updates on progress from the DCR office since.

Kevin Moloney, chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC), sent a letter to Roy on Oct. 28 to request that due attention be given by DCR to the proposal to establish an off-leash dog park within Southwest Corridor Park.

“Jamaica Plain has many dog owners but insufficient open areas where dogs can run off-leash,” Moloney wrote. “This strains community enjoyment of existing parks along the Emerald Necklace as well as other open areas of Jamaica Plain and promotes conflict between dog owners and non-owners.”

The Gazette questioned DCR about what updates it had made regarding the dog park on Dec. 12, and on Dec. 13, DCR issued a response to Kevin Moloney.

“I will conduct a series of regional public meetings after the first of the year around the state—starting with Boston and featuring DCR locations including the Southwest Corridor,” Roy wrote in his response to Moloney. In early 2017, DCR is expected to begin the process to coordinate public meetings throughout the state, not solely Jamaica Plain, to identify potential dog park locations.

A volunteer-based subcommittee among the Southwest Corridor Park Conservancy has been loosely organized to get regular updates from Matt O’Malley’s office and DCR in the process of establishing the dog park. Their first meeting will be Jan. 23.


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