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Without committee help, Hudson Dog Park could close

Union Leader Correspondent

March 14. 2014 9:40PM

HUDSON — The fate of the Hudson Dog Park remains uncertain following the dissolving of the town's dog park committee.

A public hearing on the matter initially scheduled to take place during the March 10 Board of Selectmen meeting was rescheduled after Selectman Ben Nadeau made a motion to defer it pending recommendations from the Benson Park Committee.

Nadeau currently serves as one of the board's liaisons to the 10-member committee, which oversees operations of the public park.

Since it was the former board's final meeting prior to Tuesday's elections and the evening before a very long day for Hudson town officials, fellow selectmen agreed it was best to delay discussions on the matter to an upcoming meeting.

Benson Park, located on the grounds of the former Benson's Wild Animal Park, opened as a public park about four years ago.

The Hudson Dog Park has been operating in a separate area abutting the Benson Park parking lot, with members of the Friends of Hudson Dog Park nonprofit board using privately-raised money to complete the bulk of the project.

This week, Jessica Barker, who oversees the Hudson Dog Park Facebook page, said the nonprofit was being disbanded due to the charity's "very low operating budget." She noted that volunteers are already handling the park's upkeep and at this point, it makes sense to consider handing over the leash to the Benson Park Committee when it comes to basic park management.

"It cost the committee more annually to keep the nonprofit than it does to actually operate the park," Barker said this week. "So it just doesn't make any sense to keep (Friends of Hudson Dog Park)."

As park and town officials work towards a solution, many agreed that the ultimate hope would be for the dog park to remain open.

However, as of late this week, the Benson Park Committee remained undecided on the matter and selectmen previously warned that the discontinuance of the dog park committee could result in the park's closure.

This week Benson Park Committee member John Leone stressed, "We absolutely do see the value of the dog park.

"I hope and expect that we all can work together to create a plan to keep the dog park open and that the Board of Selectmen will give us tome time to define such a plan."

Committee members agreed that more discussion would be necessary before agreeing to take on the responsibility of the dog park.

The Hudson Board of Selectmen will meet again on March 25.

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