City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan) says it's way past time for Boston to begin installing dog parks outside the "high income neighborhoods" he says have them now - and that the city should be planning them first, rather than waiting for organized groups of dog owners with discretionary income to push for them.
Arroyo said today there are no municipal dog parks at all in the southwest quarter of the city - West Roxbury, Hyde Park, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain and Mattapan. His district includes a nine-acre abandoned playground in the state-owned Stony Brook Reservation that dog owners worked for several years to convert to a dog park, only to have their plans founder on the stony visage of then state Rep. Angelo Scaccia.
"It's a real issue for dog owners," especially now, in a city growing denser by the moment and with an influx of "pandemic puppies," Arroyo said. Not only do dog parks give dogs a place to socialize and get exercise, they provide a place that keeps dogs away from people who don't want to be ambushed by exuberant or angry unleashed dogs in city parks, he said.
Boston Animal Control Director Alexis Trzcinski said she is all for more dog parks, and also cited separation of dogs from people who don't want to deal with them. She said that while her officers can issue $50 fines for unleashed dogs, she said that ideally, they would couple any fines or warnings with education on why dogs should be leashed while out and about - and that that's harder to do when there are no alternatives, such as nearby dog parks, to point the owners to.
Arroyo was joined by City Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury), who has seen two proposed dog parks in his district get shot down, one at Millennium Park in West Roxbury, where the city said it could not drill down for supports for required structures because that might puncture the lining that protects the giant heaps of trash buried under the park, and one along the Southwest Corridor Park, where DCR announced plans, then just gave up on them.
Parks Commissioner Ryan Woods said the city has money in its budget to build a dog park at Smith Field in Allston and that he has begun to talk with residents about a possible dog park behind Flaherty Pool at Roslindale's Healy Field. He added that Hyde Park in particular would be difficult for building a dog park on city land because almost all the parkland there, such as Stony Brook Reservation, is owned by the state.
Woods estimated a cost of $250,000 to create a dog park, which would include required grading, fencing and installation of a water supply, both for hot dogs on warm summer days and to aid residents with keeping the sites clean.
City Councilor Kenzi Bok (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, Mission HIll) also supported the idea of more dog parks - and of converting the current ad-hock dog run on the Common into a more permanent facility. She said that some land under the ramps of Charlesgate would be ideal for a dog park, because it's not like much can grow there anyway, but said that would likely take some major cooperation between the city and the state, which owns the ramps.