The Worcester dog park public hearing

By Edith Morgan

Finally, after nearly two decades of talking about it, Worcester is poised to create a dog park!! After a hearing at City Hall on Wednesday, February 26, with a very detailed presentation by Rob Antonelli who has been working on this problem for a decade or more, many dog owners and neighbors testified. It seems there is consensus that such a park is badly needed. With well over 10,000 properly licensed dogs in the city , and who knows how many more that are not, it is clear that there is a large garoup of residents for whom such a park would be a real boon.

Since dogs have to be “walked” at least twice a day, just to “take care of business,” and for many dog owners there is not a big, fenced-in yard available, our sidewalks and neighborhood lawns are all that is available to them. Many are very conscientious about carrying bags and picking up after their pets – but there is something missing.

Like their owners, many dogs greatly enjoy romping about freely, playing with other dogs, having “friends” in their own world. And many need an open space where they can run off the energy that builds up when they are cooped up all day inside.

So … once all the arguments in favor of a dog park were made, we had to address the details; the big question was LOCATION. We all know about NIMBY (not in my back yard), which is very understandable: fears of traffic, odors, parking problems, maintenance, were all voiced. And I am confident that in the next few months these will be addressed. We were told that it is unlikely that much will get done before next spring – so there is time to seek solutions to these problems before then.

A number of speakers at the hearing volunteered to give of their time in the park – and many also volunteered to become members of a “Friends of the Dog Park”, similar to several successful such organizations that already exist in our city: we have “The Friends of the Senior Center”, “Friends of Newton Hill” ( whose founder Rick Miller has just been recognized for his many years of devotion to that area), “The Green Hill Park Coalition”, and “Park Spirit, Inc.” (which has been advocating for our parks and raising funds for the Elm Park Summer concerts, etc… ) – to mention a few of the groups that are made up of citizen volunteers.

So it seems there are already many people ready to step up and help to make this park a success. They gave their names to the Committee, and I am certain they will be called upon soon . I know that a well-run dog park will cost to construct properly, and then will require regular maintenance and supervision and perhaps improvements as we experience its use. But as with so many other successful projects in our great city, once we decide to accomplish something, we always find help among our citizens, our businesses, and our elected officials.

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