Thursday May 10, 2018
Long after the November 20 city council vote to close the Jaycee Dog Park, due to a neighbor’s complaints about noise, the debate about re-opening the park continued. Since then, residents have attended numerous council meetings to voice their support and opposition regarding the closure. Signatures were gathered on several petitions asking to re-open the park, one of which was presented to the council Monday night. After a presentation by the Dog Park Siting Task Force and hearing comments from the public, Tom Chittenden made a motion to re-open Jaycee Dog Park until another location can be established, effective June 15. The motion included implementation of the task force’s recommendations as well. Newly appointed Councilor David Kaufman seconded this motion and the decision passed 3:2 with Emery and Barritt voting “nay.”
Initially, Jaycee Park was scouted as a potential dog park location after the city was forced to close a dog park located on airport owned property on Kirby Road. Seeking a quick solution that met the criteria of being located on city owned property and being in close proximity to the former park, the Jaycee location was deemed to be an adequate spot. At the same time, another city dog park was opened at Farrell Park. Repurposed materials from the Kirby location, along with additional new fencing materials were used to fit up the parks. The Jaycee Park location also had the capability of providing water on site for the dogs.
Shortly after the new dog park was opened at Jaycee the council was made aware of noise issues associated with barking dogs and people entering and exiting the park at all hours of the day and night. The issue was broached again Monday night, as resident Tamie Dickinson came before the council to explain that she had to leave her home and go to her place of employment to get any work done when the park was open. She noted that there was a constant and consistent turnover of people who came to the park with their dogs, and there was no relief from the noise. Dickinson, herself a dog owner, noted that she is respectful and always conscious of her dog’s barking.
The council agreed with the recommendations of the task force, to include adopting the site selection criteria they had developed, convening a community forum for site suggestions, developing recommendations for possible sites, establishing operational policies, and developing an ongoing committee to include a canine professional such as a veterinarian.
When Chair Helen Riehle called for a vote on the item, councilors were passionate about their individual perspectives on the topic. Tom Chittenden, who made the motion to temporarily re-open the park said he thought it was silly that the city’s $17,000 investment wasn’t being used and he at least wanted to see it re-opened until another location can be found. Meaghan Emery disagreed and said that while she was sympathetic to many who had come before the council, she could not vote in favor of re-opening the park. Tim Barritt, who had visited the park on several occasions, said he heard incessant barking during his time there. He also recognized the passionate pleas of people being affected by the constant noise. Barritt said if he lived in the neighborhood, he wouldn’t put up with it for one second and could not vote to re-open the dog park.
With the motion passing in a 3:2 vote, the park is set to re-open. Over the coming months, work will begin with the purpose of implementing some of the task force’s recommendations.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent