Dog Lover's Dream Come True
Funding for dog parks has dog owners celebrating.
The Foundation of the late Dr. Frank Stanton (former president of CBS), has "decided that it would like to fund 90% of a new fenced dog park in our town!" I had to read this news from an Arlington Dog Owners' Group (A-DOG) news bulletin twice before I could believe my eyes.
This news combined with the recently approved off-leash morning hours in certain Arlington parks seems like a dream come true for Arlington dog lovers. What an amazingly generous gift from a Foundation that has already funded two Boston area dog parks (at Peter's Park in the South End and Ronan Park in Dorchester), in close collaboration with the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Boston.
The addition of a fenced dog park for Arlington is far from a done deal, though. Town bylaws require the Board of Selectmen to vote on whether to accept any gift to the town. A-DOG urges dog-loving Arlington residents to write the Selectmen to express their enthusiasm and support for a fenced dog park. A-DOG says that the Selectmen "will want to know not only that there would be community enthusiasm for this new dog park, but also that there is a strong group of volunteers (namely A-DOG members) willing to help the town raise the additional funds and do other things to help make this dog park successful."
We would be responsible for raising the remaining 10% of the funds needed to create a fenced dog park before receiving the remaining 90% of the cost from the Stanton Foundation. Arlington's Dog Park Task Force estimates that the new park would cost around $250,000 to open, based on figures from comparable dog parks in the area. That may still seem like a daunting dollar amount, but at Town Day alone, 115 supporters signed A-DOG's survey to identify people who would be willing to donate to funding for a fenced dog park, should the Town decide to accept the Stanton Foundation grant.
I was more than happy to be among the first to sign this survey! I strongly believe that dog owners need chances to safely let their dogs run and play off-leash while socializing with others of their kind. However, until a dog has received enough training to safely enjoy off-leash hours in unfenced parks, the fenced dog park will prove an extremely valuable resource. It will also be wonderful for those of us who aren't early birds to have a place to take our dogs if we fail to make it to an early morning playgroup.
The Dog Park Task Force has done much research on possible sites of a fenced dog park, and voted at their last meeting that our first fenced dog park should be located at Thorndike Field in East Arlington, partly because of the size of the space available. The Parks and Recreation Commission has voted in favor of this plan and has also held a Public Input Meeting for a Thorndike Field Fenced Off-Leash Recreation Area.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston will serve in an advisory role based on its experience with the two Boston dog parks mentioned above. The final plans for a fenced dog park in Arlington must receive approval of the ARL.
Although there is clearly much work ahead in order to make the dream of a fenced-dog park in Arlington a reality, it's awfully exciting to be a giant step closer!