Barks and recreation: North Adams poised to decide on dog park plan


NORTH ADAMS — The city is on the cusp of having a new dog park near the Houghton Street playground.

A proposal for a 6,217-square-foot, fenced-in dog park, introduced by a group of canine-loving residents earlier this year, will be decided on by the city's Parks and Recreation Commission in August.

"There have been multiple, multiple efforts and generations of attempts [at building a dog park in North Adams], so we're really excited that it's coming to fruition now," said Tara Jacobs, one of the group's core members.

The volunteer group believes that the construction of a dog park would be a boost to residents and tourists, who often look for dog amenities when they visit. It would also benefit the dogs, who would learn socialization behaviors and be mentally stimulated. The Parks and Recreation Commission reviewed the proposal in a meeting earlier this month, and Mayor Richard Alcombright said the board was receptive to the plans. It's expected to formally vote on the proposal on Aug. 8.

Should the commission sign off on the dog park — which would include a 1,200-square-foot section for small dogs and a 5,000-square-foot section for large dogs — the city would begin the process of building the fencing, and the park could open before the end of the year.

Construction costs are not expected to exceed $5,000 and would come from the emergency relief funding provided to the city by the state Legislature in 2014, according to Alcombright.

The dog park will have several rules, including mandatory vaccinations and a ban on dogs that exhibit violent behavior. Owners would be legally responsible for their pets and any injuries caused by them, according to the proposal.

"We checked with our insurance company, and we were not required to maintain or purchase any additional insurance," Alcombright said.

The rules, which were vetted by the parks commission, and the layout of the park itself were approved after considerable research by the group's members, according to Jacobs. The group has committed to having a strong presence at the park in its first months to encourage positive experiences.

"We've made the commitment to the mayor and the park commission, that as a community of people who are invested in this dog park being a success, especially in the earlier months of it ... We are going to be a presence there to foster the behavior of good dog park use," Jacobs said.

A walking path that currently circles the Houghton Street park will have to be rerouted to accommodate the dog park.

If given the green light, the volunteer group will begin fundraising to provide other amenities at the park, such as benches.

The group's progress and potential future fundraising efforts can be found on its Facebook page, "North Adams Community Dog Park."

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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