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.
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