East End dogs could have a place to run and play if the Town Council approves the recommendation of the Public Works subcommittee.
Last Wednesday, the subcommittee voted to recommend that a dog park be built at Filippello Park, near the Grove Street entrance.
The spot was one of three considered by the subcommittee. The other two were near the Arsenal Project. One was by the tennis courts in Arsenal Park and the other is on land owned by the mall behind the back parking lot.
The Filippello Park proposal calls for the dog park to go on the former site of the Watertown Recycling Center. Before that it incinerator for the town’s landfill stood on that spot. Officials must test the soil for contamination before the project goes ahead.
Councilors had their problems with the other two locations. Councilor Cecilia Lenk, chair of the Public Works Committee, did not like the idea of having a dog park on private land.
“I think the private property option is not a good one,” Lenk said. “It’s not a bad location. We already have a public parking lot on private land and I don’t think it’s a good practice.”
Councilor Tony Palomba agreed, adding that the Arsenal Project has plans for a major renovation.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Palomba said. “We haven’t been presented with a master plan.”
The spot in Arsenal Park is right next to the loading dock at the mall, and Council Vice President Steve Corbett said the location has other challenges.
“I play tennis at the courts there and the area behind the loading dock is and isolated area,” Corbett said. “It can be dark and people will be there at all times of day.”
The Public Works Committee voted 3-0 to recommend to the full Town Council that the dog park be built at Filippello Park. The dog park would likely be built as part of a larger renovation of the Grove Street entrance to the park.
The Filippello Park location is the one that the Watertown Dog Park Task Force has advocated for, said Deb Whitman, one of the founders of the citizens group.
“This is exactly what we had hoped for. It’s really wonderful,” Whitman said. “We want to say how grateful the Watertown Dog Park Task Force is for the care and thoughtfulness the Town Council gave to the request.”
Town Council President Mark Sideris said the town had a dog park at How Park on Pleasant Street and residents can also use one at the Alta at the Estate apartment complex on Waltham Street. Because of this, the town can take the time to design the the East End dog park and get it right.
He suggested considering having users get passes. That way the dog park would be used by Watertown residents, Sideris said, and the money could be used to offset costs. Newton has fees, which are used for someone to patrol their seven dog parks. Sideris suggested using the money in Watertown for upkeep of the dog parks.
Watertown resident Chris Penland has followed the dog park debate for about a year. He approved of the decision.
“I am glad it seems like everyone has done their due diligence on other sites and came to this option,” Penland said. “I believe this really is the right option for the East End.”
When designing the dog park, Penland suggested that there be a smaller fenced in area inside the main fence where puppies and smaller dogs can go, or a place to take dogs who need a “time out.”