Perry Park in Somerville is being renovated; there were plans to include an off-leash recreational area for dogs in the renovation. The abutting residents objected, and at a recent meeting a counter-proposal was made: remove the dog park from Perry Park and create an off-leash area on South Street instead. It should be noted that South Street is far from Perry Park.
I wasn't able to make this meeting; for the record here are my thoughts:
My first concern is a general one: I'm worried about building parks which don't/won't have regular users. Since this will be only the second dog park in the city (after Nunziato), I'd like to make sure it works.
The Perry Park area has a lot of dog traffic already (if I recall correctly), and I'm afraid that removing the dog park from the plans is just going to cause dog owners in the area to break the law by letting their dogs run off-leash, potentially causing more problems. As long as the space formerly allocated for the dog park isn't taken over by something else, perhaps a dog park can be added later to mitigate problems residents may find they have with illegal off-leashing. However, the current plans call for a large stone plinth in the middle of the former dog park area.
I don't think the South Street property is a direct replacement for Perry Park, because I don't think it's close enough that dog owners who would otherwise go to Perry Park will go to South Street instead. It should be treated as a completely separate dog park project.
My first reaction was, "South Street is a terrible place for a dog park: there's no one living there." On a recent visit I looked more closely and saw that there were indeed a number of row houses tucked away on side streets (Tremont and Norfolk), as well as the obvious Big Condo Project on Webster Ave. There also seems to be a big apartment building on Evereteze Way which I never noticed before. I think those areas should be canvassed, and if they want a dog park, then we should accept the city's gift of the property. Someone from Union Square Main Streets was at the Diesel meeting yesterday (more on that in the next post), and they mentioned that the "junkyard area south of Union Square" was one of their targets for development as well. So perhaps the South Street area might become more useful. It may also be very close to the T in 2012 or so, depending on where the station is located. The size of the park is pretty immaterial, I think: Nunziato seems plenty large even for our greyhound who likes to run and run. Lots of small dog parks scattered about the city will do much more good than a few huge ones in remote locations.
So the bottom line is I am cautiously enthusiatic about the South Street location, pending evaluation of the community around that location, but I don't believe it addresses the needs of the Perry Park community.