SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 3, 2014

Peabody group wants to open dog park

By Alan Burke
Staff Writer

---- — PEABODY — If every dog has its day, some Peabody residents believe every dog ought to have a park, as well.

With encouragement from city officials, a group has begun raising money, while urging the city to set aside a space — Corbeil Park in West Peabody is favored — where dogs can run off their leashes.

“A well-exercised dog is a happy dog,” said Tammy Ross of Friends of Peabody Dog Park, who owns a hound mix. “I would love to take her in the morning to an off-leash dog park where I could run her ragged.”

The group has already met with Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who supports their efforts. There are roughly 3,000 licensed dogs in Peabody.

Friends member Kathleen Giadone expects the group will use money raised on their Facebook site to fence the park and provide other amenities. While the group had hoped to find a more centrally located space, she said, “It seems like Corbeil is the most available. It’s not being used as an athletic field.”

Corbeil is on Hoover Terrace, off Russell Street in West Peabody.

Trees might be planted, but no grading would be required, according to Giadone, and she proposes a grass surface that doesn’t require much attention. Dog owners would be expected to keep the grounds clean, with disposable bags provided at the entrance. Even while off leash, the dogs in the park could not be left unsupervised.

“The dogs run free, and they socialize,” said Giadone, who owns two dogs. Owners get to socialize, too. She estimates the group will need to raise up to $50,000, and she said they’ll be seeking grants to help. Eventually, she hopes, the city would take over the park.

“We’ve been very encouraged,” Giadone said. “We feel it’s possible the park could open in the summer.”

She expects to meet with the Parks Commission on March 20.

The proposal would then go before the City Council. The Friends are a small group at the moment, she said, “but it seems like we’re going to get a lot of support.”

“Look at all the surrounding communities,” Ross said. “They all have dog parks for their own residents.”

Having such a facility in Peabody would make the city a more desirable place to live, she believes.

Jen Davis of the Parks and Recreation Department also sees a need for such a facility.

“There’s currently an order that does not allow dogs in any park,” she said, though it isn’t always enforced. Finding a legal place to exercise a dog is a particular problem for those who lack a fenced-in yard.

Davis, a dog owner herself, estimates it could take a year or two to set up the dog park.

Ward 5 Councilor Joel Saslaw, who owns two cats, is enthusiastic about the plan.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said. He believes abutters have been contacted and expressed no objections.

Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz is taking a more cautious approach, however.

“I think it’s a good thing,” he said, “but we’ve got to make sure the details are right.”

He asked, for example, what would happen if the users fail to keep it clean — will the city be expected to do it?

His family has two dogs, including a Portuguese water dog.

“I would use it,” he said.