Hudson residents weigh in on dog park

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Hudson residents weigh in on dog park
Hudson’s 2020 Master Plan identified Sauta Fields as a potential site for a dog park. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

HUDSON — Hudson residents had an opportunity to weigh in on a potential dog park during an information session hosted by the Recreation Department on May 16.

About 25 people filed into the David J. Quinn Middle School cafeteria to provide input on the locations for the project as well as what features the park could have.

Director of Recreation Steven Santos said the Boston-based Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture firm is helping Hudson prepare a bid and put together construction documents for the park. 

“I’m happy that everyone is here,” landscape architect Kyle Zick said.

Zick said he was happy to “be here in Hudson” to see what people wanted in their dog park. The evening was about feedback, he said, as they “are not designing anything yet.”

“We want to get feedback that will inform selecting a site and then we can design something,” said Zick.

Santos said postcards were sent to the registered dog owners in town and abutters to the properties being discussed, and there was advertisement on the Recreation Department website and social media, where future updates would be posted.

 Zick said the goal was to make a final park safe and accessible. It would be an off-leash area that is fenced and would be integrated into the current recreational facilities in town. He said they would also try to make the impact on ecosystems and wetlands minimal.

Any finalized design and plans would have to be approved at town meeting, Santos said.

History of dog park efforts

The process started in 2015 with the Hud Dog group, a group of dog owners who looked into options for a dog park. Three years later, the Recreation Department conducted an outreach survey in which a dog park was outlined as a priority.

When the master plan for the Recreation Department was being written in 2019, Sauta Field came up as an option. Farina Field is the other location being considered.   

In 2020, they put a plan together. 

“We’ve done our research,” said Santos. “We know what the community wants.” 

When the pandemic hit, everything was put on hold. That is until now with the hiring of the Zick firm to once again examine how to build a dog park in Hudson.

The park has two primary funding sources: the Stanton Foundation and the Community Preservation Committee (CPC). The Stanton Foundation – which Zick said has certain rules to fund a project – will fund $25,000 of design work and $250,000, or 90% of overall work, for construction, while the CPC will provide the remaining monies needed.

“We built a relationship with the foundation, and so we feel strongly that we’ll be able to get those,” said Santos.

The timing is important because the Stanton Foundation grant will be retired at the end of 2025. Santos said that “we have to move this forward.” 

Residents weigh in on sites

Rob Barella, who is another member of the landscape architecture firm, said regardless of whether the park is at Farina or Sauta fields there are parts of the project that will need to be included, such as fencing, potable water, shade, parking, seating for owners, waste receptacles and a type of surfacing. The variables or extras would be lighting, irrigation and play equipment for dogs.

Both sites are about half- to three-quarters of an acre.

Farina Field is an already-existing open lawn that is relatively flat and close to the town center. However, there isn’t a parking lot or paved areas, the driveway floods and the perimeter of the site is surrounded by wetlands. There is no current electrical or access to water on site, according to data presented by Barella.

“That site does flood,” said Barella.

This was a point that several abutters to the field confirmed. One resident said the town would have a “muddy field.”  

In the case of Sauta Field, the field is in a partially-wooded area that is less connected to Hudson neighborhoods. While there’s electrical and irrigation on the site, the property has adjacent wetlands and a brook. 

Abutter said that parking at Sauta Field would be used quickly as there are families at the site to attend youth sports on any given weekend. Kristine Connor of Brook Street said the Sauta Field area “quite congested” on Saturdays.

Santos said the town was aware of the high number of families and children going to games. 

He emphasized that they would have to go to the Conservation Commission prior to any decisions on either site, both of which have wetland issues.

“This is not just a one-and-done conversation,” Santos said. “We’re going to continually talk about it.”

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