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North Suburban News

Stoneham Looks At An Additional Dog Park

Sep 12, 2018 03:37PM ● By Dan Marra

STONEHAM –  Plans to create an additional dog park in town are still in the early stages, but supporters of the project say there is definitely a need and a desire for the venue.

The Open Space and Recreation Advisory Committee has been exploring the idea of constructing a dog park in Stoneham for more than a year, but the chairman said this week that the park is still in the conceptual stages, despite a hearing last spring on one proposed site.

“The dog park is very, very preliminary at this point,” chairman Stephen G. McDonough said on Monday.

 In May, the advisory board considered a proposal to repurpose a park on Capen Street that called for removing the playground and adding fencing to convert the space into a spot for dogs to gather and play. But McDonough said that proposal was reviewed only after the site was recommended to the group as a potential site. The hearing was held to gauge the feelings of community members and to learn if the site had support.

The Open Space and Recreation Committee currently has a list of about a dozen possible sites for a dog park, McDonough added.

He declined to elaborate on where the other sites are, saying, “none of them have really been vetted out.”

McDonough said the park’s site would need to meet certain criteria and regulations, such as the need for dogs to have all shots and not be aggressive towards other animals.

“Most dog parks are a fenced-in area,” McDonough said.

 While Stoneham has a large, popular dog park at the Sheepfold at the Middlesex Fells, that site is run by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the town has no control over the off-leash area, McDonough said.

The Sheepfold has no fencing, which makes it different than all other dog parks in the area, including Wakefield, Medford, Woburn and Melrose.

Dogs can run off-leash through the open Sheepfold field, McDonough added, and nothing is in place to prevent the dogs from running up the walking trails.

The recreation group has researched the method for creating a dog park and the town would likely be eligible for a grant that would fund the majority of the project, McDonough said.  Once the list of possible sites has been narrowed, the Open Space committee plans to launch a Friends of the Stoneham Dog Park group that would be involved in additional fundraising and assisting with the maintenance and oversight of the park, once it is created.

As town animal control officers often work limited hours, McDonough said users typically become monitors of the park, ensuring that others clean up after their pets and enforcing that aggressive dogs are asked to leave the premises.

Setting up strong regulations and methods of oversight helps to ensure there are few instances of aggression or attacks, McDonough added.

The Open Space and Recreation Advisory Committee meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Any resident interested in this topic is invited to attend a meeting.

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