Northborough selectmen green light location for dog park

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Northborough selectmen green light location for dog park
Ellie enjoys a walk on the Cold Harbor Trail in Northborough. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH – A new dog park may be coming to Boundary Street following a vote by the Board of Selectmen Dec. 5.

This will be Northborough’s first off-leash dog park, and it comes after community efforts dating back 18 years.

“[We] want to thank the town for the leadership and for the support in getting this done,” said resident Rick Robinson.

Robinson had been part of efforts 18 years ago to bring a dog park to Northborough, and he said they had examined Boundary Street as a possible location and thought it was an “excellent place.”

One of four proposed sites

Earlier this year, Town Meeting voters approved spending $35,000 from the Community Preservation Unreserved Fund to complete a feasibility study and a preliminary for a dog park, including studying up to five potential locations.

In October, town staff conducted a public presentation on four sites, including on Carriage Hill Road, Buena Vista Road, Bearfoot Road and Boundary Street.

At that meeting, the Boundary Street and Bearfoot Road sites were the most popular among attendees, with Boundary Street ranking as number one among people who mentioned a site.

“This will be a fenced-in area,” Town Planner Laurie Connors said. “It will be a safe area where people can go and socialize with other dog-lovers while their dogs exercise themselves. It’s a fun place to go.”

According to Director of the Department of Public Works Scott Charpentier, Northborough purchased the land on Boundary Street in the 1960s with the intent of building a sanitary sewer treatment plant, though the town was later directed by the Department of Public Health to instead discharge to Marlborough’s plant.

“When you compare the analyses of the four sites, the Boundary Street parcel has the least number of residential uses around it that may be troubling,” Charpentier said.

There’s 8.6 acres available on the site. Connors said they’re interested in placing the dog park as close to nearby Department of Conservation and Recreation land as possible.

There would be a dual entrance to the park. The site would include just over an acre fenced in area with an asphalt parking lot with 10 spaces along with an overflow parking area. The small dog area would be 8,145 square feet, and the large dog area would be 44,480 square feet. A shade structure would straddle both areas, according to Connors.

There is an easement running through the property, and Charpentier said the town would not be allowed to build any permanent structures over the easement.

Northborough selectmen green light location for dog park
This image is a conceptual plan for the Northborough dog park. (Screenshot/Northborough Remote Meetings)

Resident voices concerns

Cindy Burns, who lives on Boundary Street, said one of her main concerns was security. She asked who would enforce any rules that were set and what security measures would there be at night.

“Where you have an open parking lot, that might invite teens from the neighborhood or who knows what could go on,” Burns said.

She added that she has seen people riding bikes through nearby trails at night.

Connors said the town wasn’t envisioning any lighting for the dog park, which would be a dusk to dawn facility. She said there would be a committee that would oversee the dog park and handle any issues.

Connors, who helped bring a dog park to Millbury, said while a couple dogs were banned from the park, there weren’t complaints about odor, vandalism or illicit behavior.

Next steps

Since, an application has been submitted for $347,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to fund the construction of the dog park. Connors also plans to submit a design application to the Stanton Foundation, which she called the “premiere funder of dog parks in Massachusetts.”

According to their CPA application, the total cost of the project is estimated at $595,000, including $561,000 for construction and $34,000 for permitting, final design, bid documents and construction oversight.

With blessing from the selectmen in hand, the town will continue working on the design of the park. Connors anticipated that the preliminary design of the dog park will be completed in the spring.

Northborough will be holding another community meeting on the dog park in January. According to Connors, this meeting will provide an opportunity for Weston & Sampson – which was hired by the town over the summer – to go in detail over the plans for the site and the community to provide feedback.

Funding for construction and some of the design funds may go before Town Meeting next April.

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