Advocates for creating a dog park in the largest city in western Massachusetts have secured money for a feasibility study.
For almost two years, an ad hoc committee of the Springfield City Council has been looking into creating a dog park – a place where dogs could exercise and socialize off-leash.
Noticing the popularity of dog parks in places like East Longmeadow, Agawam, Northampton and Holyoke, City Councilor Orlando Ramos created the Dog Park Committee when he was Council President in 2018. He now chairs the committee.
The ad hoc committee consists of several dog owners and representatives from the city’s parks department, animal control operations, and health department.
While a dog park sounds like a simple concept, creating one is complex.
Patrick Sullivan, Springfield’s parks director, said none of the city’s existing parks have space that could be easily converted to a dog park.
" I am struggling with where on existing property we own it could go," said Sullivan.
He noted the city's parks consist mostly of recreation and play ground space and wooded wetland areas that can't be developed.
The city’s Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Helen Caulton-Harris said she envisions some people will object to the development of a dog park, especially if there is no evidence of sufficient demand for it.
"We would need an under girding of something in order to move ( a dog park) forward," said Caulton-Harris.
$50,000 for a dog park feasibility study was one of the projects authorized for funding this year from the Springfield Community Preservation Act.
Ramos said the study will determine if there is sufficient demand for a dog park and identify possible locations.
" I am assuming there should be more than one because of the size of the city of Springfield," said Ramos. He said the study will determine if there is space for a dog park on property the city currently owns.
The ad hoc committee will schedule a meeting with the city’s procurement office to discuss finding someone to conduct the feasibility study.
" The feasiblity study will also be looking at the best practices for running the dog park," said Ramos.
Ramos said the study should be finished by the end of next year.