DCR moving forward with Site A dog park location

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is moving forward with the Site A dog park location, drawing a mixed response.  

DCR held a meeting during the summer to present to the community different proposals on a potential off-leash dog recreation area within Southwest Corridor Park. According to DCR, the sites considered were evaluated for size, characteristics, proximity to public transit, and impact on abutters of surrounding properties. The three dog park site proposals from DCR included Site A at Green Street and Oakdale/Lawndale Terrace, Site B opposite Evy Tea on Amory Street, and Site C at Stonybrook Station adjacent to Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.

Site A garnered the most support during the community meeting, but a petition was created afterwards opposing that site and was delivered to DCR with 74 signatures.

The Gazette recently asked for an update on the proposals and DCR replied, “At this time, the agency’s project consultants are developing a conceptual design process for the location that received the majority of public support, location A. The design will take into account all of the feedback provided by the public during the public comment period.

“In the coming months, a public meeting is expected to be held by the DCR to present the public with a schematic proposal.”

Jamaica Plain resident Eva Kaniasty gave DCR move a thumbs up.

“I’m thrilled that DCR has listened to the needs of the community and responded in a constructive manner,” she said. “Site A has the potential to be a world-class dog park. Dog owners and neighbors who are interested in helping make this park a reality are encouraged to follow the Friends of JP Dog Parks Facebook page.”

JP residents Steve Michener and Weezy Waldstein, who were involved in the petition opposing Site A, were on the other end of the spectrum on DCR’s decision.

“It is very disappointing to hear that the DCR may be moving forward with a design proposal for a dog park on the Southwest Corridor Park Site A.  They have received feedback from 50 abutters against locating the proposed park at Site A.  DCR has not fulfilled its promise to meet with the abutters,” Michener and Waldstein said in a joint email.

They said that public land that is being used by a variety of users is now being considered for the sole use of a dog park with “virtually no public input.” They questioned why DCR was focusing on this section of the four-mile stretch of the Southwest Corridor Park that was “intended to knit together the racially and economically diverse communities that had been disrupted and disenfranchised by the initial eminent domain land grabs for the highway project.”
“It is ironic and tone deaf that the current public agency (DCR) charged with stewarding public land is again moving forward with plans for public land use without consulting a diverse representation of community members,” they said. “We, the users of the park, as well as area residents call on the DCR to do its job and engage with the broader community before moving forward with a particular site. By moving into a design phase before engaging with the broader community, you are repeating the mistakes of the past, and risk again disenfranchising community members, particularly people of color, and low-income residents.”
Jennifer Leonard, chair of the Southwest Corridor Park Management Advisory Council (PMAC), took a more diplomatic approach to DCR’s move, saying the dog park decision needs to be consensus drive.

“We (PMAC) have shared with DCR staff that we feel that important decisions about park design should be based on consensus, and not a ‘majority-rules’ or a ‘winners-and-losers’ decision making process,” she said. “Any public comment process is ideally based on reaching out to, listening to and respecting all voices, and not just a majority….This would be especially true for dog park site selection process, since it wouldn’t make sense to have the comments from a large number of dog owners take priority over concerns of neighbors, park volunteers and other park users.”   

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