HUDSON – The proposed dog park in Hudson now has a determined location after the Park Commission voted on Nov. 8 that the park will be built at Sauta Fields.
It has been a long process that began in 2015 and continued in 2018 when the town hired a consultant to do a community outreach survey that found that the development of a dog park was a top priority for people in Hudson.
At a May 16 forum at the David J. Quinn Middle School, the Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture (KZLA) firm, which is based in Boston, was introduced as the group that will design and prepare the steps to make the park a reality. The two funding sources were identified as the Stanton Foundation and the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) with Stanton funding $25,000 of design work and $250,000, or 90% of the overall construction, and the CPC as a source for the remaining monies needed.
With Stanton in mind as one of the primary funding sources, the key was for the Park Commission to lock in a location in order to move on to the next step of getting the design grant as the deadline to get a grant was the end of the year, according to Director of Recreation Steven Santos.
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The two viable options for the park were Farina Field, which is located where Cox and Manning streets meet near the First United Methodist Church, and Sauta Fields, which is located at 539 Main Street.
Landscape architect Kyle Zick of KZLA said his firm has experience working with the Stanton Foundation as well as building dog parks of different scales. He said the Hudson dog park project will use public input to “create a dog park design” while being mindful of the natural resources in the area.
“Once we have a site, we want to have something that’s safe and accessible so you can have your dogs off leash,” said Zick.
KZLA was hired in March 2023. Following the May 16 meeting, the firm researched other potential sites like the grassy area near the Assabet River Rail Trail parking lot across from the Main Street Cemetery, a property at 90 Technology Drive and a property on Forestvale Road, which is adjacent to the Forestvale Cemetery.
Zick said, “We chased down every one of them.”
The advantages of Farina Field were the proximity to downtown and a flat surface, while the drawbacks were that the driveway floods, and there are no current water or electricity connections. Sauta Fields, however, had parking and water infrastructure already, and there would be less impact on residential homes than Farina Field.
Zick noted Sauta Fields measures about a half-acre to three-quarters of an acre. In a survey of 129 people conducted in June, 37 people voted for Sauta Fields and 34 for Farina Fields.
“We really determined there are no other acceptable locations for the new dog park,” said Zick.
Rob Barella of KZLA explained the cost estimates for both.
For Farina, the cost estimate was about $413,000, while Sauta’s cost estimate was less at about $282,000. One reason Farina Field would cost more to design and build was the need to construct an access drive to Cox Street.
He said Sauta Fields not only already has an access drive to the street, but they could work with the vegetation there to create a walking loop for dogs.
The commission received feedback from residents of Brook Street, which abuts Sauta Fields.
Donna Blunt believed the fact that the soccer, football and baseball fields were close to the proposed dog park was a concern, as was the weekend traffic in the parking lot.
“How is all of that going to come into play? Just take that into consideration,” said Blunt.
Christine Conner said people park on Main Street near the fields due to the parking lot being filled. She also had safety and noise concerns due to it being “a very loud and active location.”
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She was concerned about whether there would be lights as it is an area with private homes. Santos said the Stanton Foundation does not require lights and called them a “nice-to-have” feature for the park.
Santos added there will be future public meetings as the process goes along for input from residents.
The Park Commission members voted unanimously for Sauta Fields and gave their reasons for their decision. Member Michael Chaves said he had “issues overall with Farina” and could not envision getting approval for a fire truck to navigate the driveway there.
While he heard the residents’ concerns about the proximity to recreational activities, he believed it to be the better site. That said, he noted they have to take a good look at parking.
“Part of this site would have to be seriously looking at traffic flow,” said Chaves.
Santos said the next steps are to come up with design plans and apply for funds from the Stanton Foundation.
He said, “There’s still a lot that needs to happen.”
All updates will be on the Hudson Recreation website at https://hudsonrecreation.recdesk.com. Santos also encouraged residents to reach out to the Recreation Department and come see him or call 978568-9642, if they had questions or comments regarding the dog park.
Correction: An earlier version of this article included the wrong address for Sauta Field. It is located at 539 Main Street.