PLAINVILLE - The proposed dog park and plan to close the trail gap both continued to be topics of heavy discussion at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.
A public hearing on the dog park - proposed to be a one-acre, volunteer-funded, off-street location on Norton Place Extension - drew numerous speakers, both in favor and opposed. The town has approximately 2,000 registered dogs and the dog park committee was formed two years ago to determine a suitable location.
Those in favor said the park would give the dogs opportunities to exercise and would provide opportunities to socialize for both dogs and their owners.
“I’m handicapped and Southington is too far to drive to on no budget,” said Scott Adamson of the dog park committee. “There is only one neighbor there and if a dog park was near my house I’d love it. This would be a wonderful addition and help more folks like me who can’t walk as much.”
“I live in a neighborhood where a dozen dogs walk by my house every day,” said Mike Kirkwood, who lives next to Dan Ciesielski, chair of the dog park committee. “In the last 17 years one person left a pile and didn’t clean it up. I think the location is perfect and I’ve never heard anything bad about the Southington dog park. This would be nice to have.”
Ciecielski also spoke at the meeting and presented the council with 636 petition signatures in favor of the park. He added that he “wants to be a good neighbor” and believes concerns can be “addressed.”
Some opponents didn’t like how close the park is to their homes, others questioned how the park will be maintained and others said they were concerned for the safety of the dogs or people if dogs were allowed to run loose.
“I am strongly opposed to this dog park,” said Danielle Roux. “My property is affected on two sides with the park only 166 feet away. I am concerned for the health, safety and privacy of my family. All dog parks have problems and complaints and I feel it will be a major health issue. This will be a maggot and fly breeding ground - who is going to want to cook outside in the summer next to that?”
“I’m a true dog advocate,” said Joe Banaszak. “It’s not so easy to just let dogs cut loose. Dogs will get injured or killed with this dog park. This is unfair to the dogs. If anything we should set up an enclosure which dogs can run through one at a time.”
Other residents said they’d be in favor of a dog park but that they would favor a different location.
Later, during his report, Town Manager Robert E. Lee invited the public to visit gapclosurestudy.com and weigh-in on the final report of the steering committee when it becomes available Jan. 11.
“The report covers the North-South alignment that aims to cover the Plainville gap in the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail,” said Lee. “...The 30-day comment period for this plan will begin Jan. 11 and run through Feb. 12. The plan includes an overview of the trail planning process, including the study’s vision, goals and objectives, a background review of the previous plans and studies, a review of existing conditions, a description of the alternatives considered and a description of the preferred trail alignments/recommendations and implementation steps.”
A consistent group of trail opponents continued to voice their opposition.
“I oppose a trail that splits the Pierce Street neighborhood and affects other neighborhoods in town,” said Katherine LaBella. “As we move into this new year I remain hopeful that members of the council, town employees and the gap closure steering committee will truly listen to the concerns of Plainville citizens.”
LaBella said that resident feedback has led to “positive developments” in the trail project. However, she accused town representatives of “suppressing and targeting residents” for “their choice of language” or for their “real and justified concerns about the potential impact of the trail on other neighborhoods.” She said that doing so could make people hesitate to speak publicly.
“People should be heard professionally and responded to professionally if public discourse about this trail is to continue in a transparent manner,” said LaBella, who did not cite a particular incident or representative.
A special public hearing and council meeting will be held Feb. 5 at the Middle School of Plainville auditorium at 150 Northwest Drive starting at 6 p.m. People can attend this meeting to learn more about the project and share comments on the draft report with the council. Feedback will help the gap closure study team shape the final report.
Language interpretation is available on request with 48 hours of notice.
For more information on the study, contact Tim Malone at 860-724-4221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.