HALLOWELL — In response to complaints from residents about noise and odors, city officials will consider whether to move or even do away with the dog park in Vaughan Field.

The city’s planning committee will meet soon to discuss the topic and invite residents to give input.

Several people whose properties abut the dog park asked Hallowell City Councilors to move the dog park, and some suggested the city does not need one. They said many dog owners using the park are not Hallowell residents.

“We feel that our property has been devalued, being next to a dog park,” Vine Street resident Mary Sampson said. “Seven months out of the year, when the trees aren’t in bloom, we are staring at what is essentially a dog lavatory. I don’t believe that anyone in this room would want a dog park next to their home, either.”

The dog park opened in 2010 and consists of a fenced area of about a quarter-acre where dogs can exercise and socialize off a leash.

Several residents who spoke at the council’s Monday meeting said they want Hallowell to continue to have a dog park, and some said Vaughan Field is the most convenient location.

Residents who spoke both in favor of and against the dog park remaining at Vaughan Field said city officials should consider creating a larger space for dogs and posting guidelines for dog owners.

“If the council decides to move the dog park, I think it’s important that we continue to have a dog park that is at least as big as this one, if not bigger,” said Christine Canty Brooks, who lives on Sampsons Row and said she goes to the dog park at least twice a day. “I think a good idea to start would be to post some rules and see how that goes. It was one of the top priorities when we did the Vaughan Field focus group, it was something that the people in the town did support.”

Brooks said most people who visit the dog park seem to pick up after their dogs and that moving or eliminating the park would not solve the problem of people not picking up their dog’s refuse elsewhere in Vaughan Field.

Vine Street resident Patty Ferrentino said many dog owners who use the park are irresponsible, and feces can contaminate the ground or water within minutes. Also, Ferrentino frequently has to ask dog owners to stop their pets from barking after letting them go on for several minutes at a time.

Ferrentino noted that an August 2009 plan called for the dog park to be placed elsewhere in Vaughan Field, but she would prefer it be moved somewhere away from anyone’s home.

“We’ve tried it for two years,” Ferrentino said. “Honestly, it just hasn’t worked out.”

One suggestion was to place the dog park at Hallowell Reservoir.

The councilors unanimously referred the issue to the property committee for further discussion.

“I think the analysis is, do we need a dog park? And if so, where?” Councilor Mark Walker said. “I am totally convinced, from what has been said tonight, that it should not be there.”

Councilor Steve Vellani said the problems are immediate and he hopes they can be solved quickly.

 

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

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