PLAINVILLE - After the Town Council elected to postpone approving a site for a dog park, the dog park committee spent the recent balloon festival collecting more than 300 petition signatures from residents in favor of having it.
The petition calls on residents to support creating a one-acre, off-leash dog park located at the end of Norton Place Extension. It says that the goal is to create a park where “well-behaved dogs can exercise and romp in an enclosed, safe, clean and monitored area.” The proposed park has two sections, one for larger dogs and the other for smaller or more timid dogs.
“A significant number of people said that it was a great idea and that we should have a dog park,” said Dan Ciesielski, chair of the dog park committee. “A lot of people pointed out that other towns have them and said we should have one too. They said that it would add to the flavor of the town. We got a lot of positive responses.”
The dog park committee was formed in February 2016 and has been negotiating with town leaders ever since. The current recommended site for the park is Norton Place Extension. The petition lists the advantages of the site as it being owned by the town, having a minimal development cost, cul-de-sac parking, being remote from traffic and distractions, having available water and making “optimal use” of a flood plain area.
“There are two houses maybe a half-mile away,” said Ciesielski. “But, if we have the dog park, we want to be a good neighbor. We want to respect people’s privacy, their families and their property. We don’t want things to get out of hand. The dog park committee will be going out to the park regularly to check on it and help keep it clean.”
Ciesielski said that the next step for the dog park committee will come when the council announces a public hearing date for the issue.
“We will rally folks to support the dog park,” he said. “We will ask them to come out and speak to the council and we will hand the council our petition and show them how many signatures we were able to collect during two days of the festival. I am also asking people to email councilors to show their support.”
Scott Adamson, another member of the committee, said that he feels that there are some members of the council who support the plan and others who may be hesitant. He hopes that seeing the response from residents in favor of the park will change the minds of those on the fence and invited councilors to attend the next dog park committee meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 11.
The petition argues that having a dog park in town will allow dogs to exercise and socialize safely, promote responsible dog ownership and makes the dogs less skittish and aggressive by giving them social opportunities. Having regular exercise, it states, makes most dogs calmer and better behaved. The petition also argues that research shows that crime is reduced in neighborhoods with dog parks.
“During the last council meeting, people were complaining about people speeding in the area and not stopping at the stop sign,” said Adamson. “That’s not just that road, that’s all over Connecticut. That’s standard driving these days. People will beep at you if you don’t take a right turn on red even if there is a sign saying that you can’t. If that is a problem, I ask you to contact the police and tell them to sit near the stop sign. That’s a police issue, not a dog park issue. There were also people talking about people coming to the area to abuse drugs and alcohol and have sex. Well, I went to Norton Place Extension recently and I didn’t see any beer bottles or other evidence of that.”
Ciesielski argued that the town has bought up and demolished 22 homes in the area because it is a flood plain. Thus, traffic has already been significantly reduced from what it used to be.
“If 10 or 15 people bring dogs in a day it will still be less than what it used to be,” he said. “As for criminal activities, people won’t be doing that when there are dogs and their handlers around. This is a whole lot of ‘not in my backyard.’ I believe that the Town Council should have approved this park months ago; doing their due diligence should not take 16 months. My fear is that even though there are a significant amount of people in favor of this, the Town Council will listen to the small minority people who are opposed. There are nearly 2,000 registered dogs in Plainville according to the town clerk and the majority deserves to get what it wants. As baby boomers get older and their children move out, more and more of them will seek companionship from a dog. There is going to be an increase in dog owners and they should have a park in town. We really want this to be a positive experience for everybody.”
For more information on the dog park committee, call Ciesielski at 860-747-4429 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.