Former zoo to be dog park

Wednesday, December 19
PITTSFIELD — Despite the objections of one board member and several city residents, the Park Commission last night voted 3-1 in favor of adopting a citizen committee's recommendation that Pittsfield's first-ever dog park be located at the site of the former Springside Park zoo.

The zoo, which ceased operations many years ago, was located near a circular gravel parking lot, behind a row of trees separating the North Street park from the Reid Middle School athletic fields.

Chairman John P. Herman and fellow board members Clifford J. Nilan and Sheila LaBarbera voted in favor of the recommendation offered by an ad hoc "dog committee" that had been formed to look into dog issues in the city's parks. Charles P. Garivaltis voted no.

LaBarbera, the commission's liaison to the ad hoc committee, said plans call for the dog park to be a half-acre parcel that will be separated from the rest of the park by a 4- to 5-foot fence. The fenced-in area will allow dog owners to unleash their pets so that they can run.

The ad hoc committee had been formed after the Park Commission considered banning all dogs from the city's 29 parks and playgrounds in August 2006 due to the amount of dog droppings found in those areas.

LaBarbera said Springside Park, the city's largest park, had been selected to house a dog park because it is centrally located, is accessible from North Street, has adequate parking and ample shade, and can be accessed by both the physically handicapped and the elderly. The committee examined several other city parks before deciding on Springside, she said.

She said the initial expense for the city of Pittsfield would be for fencing, and that officials would explore grant opportunities to pay for that expenditure.

Garivaltis said he was opposed to the use of Springside Park for several reasons. Referring to an eight-year-old management study of Springside Park's ponds, Garivaltis said he believed increased traffic on the gravel pathway leading to the former zoo would cause additional runoff into wetland areas that could violate the state Wetlands Act and the Federal Clean Water Act. Additional runoff from dog droppings would further soil the park's wetland areas, he said.

He said former Berkshire Evening Eagle publisher Kelton Miller's 1910 donation of 10 acres that initially formed Springside Park stipulated the land should be held forever as a public park.

"I don't think that even the wildest proponent of a dog park would say that in improving the park, one section of the park should be used as a dog toilet," Garivaltis said.

Herman said Garivaltis was "misstating the issue," referring to earlier comments that stated the park would be used for an exercise area — not a bathroom for pets.

Several city residents, including former Park Commission member Gene Nadeau, said they were in favor of dog parks but not at Springside Park. One woman referred to a poll on Ward 4 Councilor Michael L. Ward's Web site that showed 53 of the 65 people who participated, or 83 percent, were in favor of having a dog park established at Kirvin Park on Williams Street. Herman said the poll results had been forwarded to the commission.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:, (413) 496-6224.

What's next ...
Grant funding will be sought to pay for a 4- to 5-foot fence to enclose the half-acre dog-run area at the former zoo at Springside Park.


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