LONDONDERRY — Local dogs and their owners may soon have a safe place to play.
Earlier this week, Scott Benson, a member of the Londonderry Dog Park Study Committee, appeared before the town council to discuss the possibility of building a public dog park on town-owned land along West Road.
The 0.77-acre parcel in question is tucked behind two of the town’s athletic fields and is next to one of the recreation department’s utilities sheds.
Benson said he’s already discussed his plan with the conservation commission and Recreation Director Art Psaledas.
Psaledas confirmed the site wasn’t usable for athletics, and said he was open to the possibility of having a dog park set up there, while the abutters of four nearby homes told Benson they wouldn’t be bothered by the sound of frolicking pups, as the area already gets quite noisy at times due to frequent sporting events and heavy traffic.
“It’s the only viable site that the town owns that really can’t be used for anything else,” Benson told councilors Monday night. “I really think this is our best option right now.”
Since pets aren’t permitted on the town’s athletic fields, Benson admitted that the site’s current parking areas would likely need to be expanded to separate dog park guests from ballpark visitors.
“But it looks like there’s plenty of room for us to designate some new parking spots just for the dog park,” he noted.
Fundraising for the new dog park would be done independently, committee members said, with no taxpayer funds to be spent on the project.
Councilor John Farrell advised Benson to address the dog park’s future maintenance with the public works department, while Councilor Tom Freda said the question of the town’s liability regarding the public dog park would likewise need to be answered before shovels can hit the ground.
The topic will be further addressed at an upcoming Londonderry Town Council meeting.
Local pet lovers have been working towards the dog park project for the past several years.
In June 2011, former cable administrator Dottie Grover initially approached the council in hopes of forming a committee aimed at exploring possible dog park options. Later that summer, the council voted unanimously to form the study committee and members have been seeking a permanent home for the Londonderry Dog Park ever since.