Thursday, July 23, 2015

Going To The Dogs

Dog Park brainstorming session attracted 25 to Town Hall on a nice summer night

In addition to the new Fire Station, DPW Building, Jones Library expansion/renovation and Wildwood elementary school reboot -- which Finance Director Sandy Pooler uses $57 million as a "placeholder" -- the town is also, sort of, considering a new parking garage on the CVS/town lot downtown and now a dog park.

 Unofficial proposed site for new parking garage

Twenty five citizens -- mostly dog lovers -- turned out for the "brainstorming" session on Monday night led by acting Town Manager Dave Ziomek.

 Assistant Town Manger Dave Ziomek addresses the friendly crowd

Of course of all the projects on the drawing board, or wish list as the case may be, the dog park is easily the cheapest.  And the town does own more open space than you can throw a stick at.

Currently about 1,400 licensed dogs call Amherst home but Animal Welfare Officer (not to be confused with Animal Control) Carol Hepburn estimates there are another 400 unlicensed dogs running around town under her radar.

 Carol Hepburn (left)

And at $15 per license (only $5 if neutered) it's not like the demographic is a big money maker -- even if you brought all the gypsy dogs into the fold. 

Canines in our little college town, like students, get a bad rap because of the irresponsible actions of a tiny minority.

The attack last year on two young students at Crocker Farm Elementary School by an unleashed pit bull led School Superintendent Maria Geryk to issue a ban on dogs during school hours on all school grounds (although not overly well followed).

Four years ago the Conservation Commission voted to ban dogs at Puffer's Pond even on the north side, formerly called "dog beach."  Although the Commission narrowly stopped short (3-3 tie vote) of repealing the off leash policy at Mill River and Amethyst Brook Conservation areas during the morning hours.

The Commission also voted  unanimously that night to "strongly encourage the town manager to seek to establish a dog park."

So here we are.  The brainstorming session on Monday produced a variety of ideas that town staff will put up on the town website, and the next meeting will take place in September.

 Click to enlarge/read


Dr. Ed said...

I am struck at how pets are treated with more dignity and respect that human beings.

Why is there more concern for the welfare of dogs than for UMass students? Why not take the same approach of jail, fines and the rest?

And what no one realizes is that while the Section 8 subsidies will increase to reflect the higher rents caused by the higher property taxes necessary to fund this drunken orgy of spending, the amount of money that college kids have won't. More will be commuting further distances, unable to use the PVTA even if they wanted to.

More traffic on the streets and more (poor) children in the schools -- which means more money for everything from Team Maria's Minions to more frequent repaving of streets due to heavier traffic on them.

Anonymous said...

Why do the tax payers of Amherst need to pay for someone to walk their dogs? These, the same people who do not clean up after their dogs leaves a mess on the street.
Give me a break Amherst! If they don't clean now, they won't clean when they get a dog park.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe we are expending town funds on this when we don't even have municipal trash and landscape debris pickup.

Anonymous said...

When I am in any conservation area in Amherst, almost all dogs are off leash. Whether or not a dog is "friendly" (like every off-leash dog owner professes) or not, my kids and I do not want an untamed, slobbering, dirty "member of your family" jumping on us or worse. Dogs are considered personal property under the law. If one cannot controll their dog and it causes harm, the owner is legally and financially responsible.

Not once in Amherst have I ever seen an off-leash dog under "voice control" pay any heed to its owner. The only "voice control" I ever hear is the owner's voice yelling to me (usually far from their dog as it charges up), "Don't worry. He's friendly!"...Guess what, not always.

I wish more dog owners understood their obligations. Perhaps this would be less of an issue. But "irresponsible dog owner" is largely a redundant term these days. Or at least it is in Amherst conservation lands.

By the way, despite Ed's non sequitur rant about the PVTA and Team Maria, he is right on the money about the treatment of dogs vs. people.

Anonymous said...

One item that's not on the list but should be. Who's going to pick-up all the dog crap that's left behind when the dogs go home for the night. I know who won't, the dam dog owners! A big waste of tax payers money. Walk them in your own back yards!

Anonymous said...

I personally think it is great that all citizens basic needs are being met and that collectively the town has so much extra money that the citizens are fine with the town spending it this way. This is a sign we are doing good folks. Especially that all folks in town are so financially confident, not just now, but about their future and their childrens' futures that they are willing to give us so much to the community.

Kudoos Amherst Citizens. You won at the game of life. Now it is time to enjoy the spoils.

Anonymous said...

Dogs: love'm or leave'm, but make their owners pay for 'em!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous 5:29

We should receive more basic town services for the amount of taxes we pay!

Anonymous said...

Wait, I have to pay for your bratty kids to go to school. The least you can do is give me a small parcel of land to enjoy my lifestyle. Is that too much to ask?

Anonymous said...

Make the landfill a dog park, since The neighbors can't deal with solar. It will be a perfect use of Town property, everything under the grass is shit anyway.