WHAT YOU'RE SAYING: SMA and Dogs
Clergy opposes an extension to a temporary dog park on Common Street.
"What needs to be understood is that we are four men that live there," Roache said. "I had to raise some concerns immediately."
Dedham Parks and Recreation commissioners sought approval Thursday night from the Board of Selectmen to allow the temporary dog park to remain on Common Street for another year as they work toward a permanent solution.
While Parks and Recreation commissioner Chuck Dello Iacono looked at attendance of up to 75 dogs a day as a success, Roache called it a "nuisance."
"I don't care if you are a dog owner or not, would you like that next door to you?" he said.
Roache and three other men live full-time at the SMA house, which abuts the park. Roache said often times people will drive into their parking lot trying to access the park, including 20 documented times since Jan. 28.
Commissioners and Roache gave conflicting reports to selectmen of when the park is used as well.
Dello Iacono told the board that dog owners don't show up to the park until it opens at 7 a.m., and that they are routinely gone at dusk. Dello Iacono said he stops by the park multiple times a day to check on owners.
Roache, however, gave documentation to selectmen that reports that people were using the park outside of the posted hours on 14 days since Jan. 7.
"Individuals - they are there whistling, shouting for the dogs," he said.
The park opened on Dec. 1 as part of a 90-day trial. Thursday marked day 71 of that trial.
SMA Fathers weren't notified of a Board of Selectmen meeting in November, when the board approved the pilot dog park, Roache said.
"It wasn't until they were rolling out the temporary fencing that we actually learned that the dog park was to be a three-month program," Roache said.
Edward Richardson, an attorney accompanying Roache, contended that the use doesn't fall within the town's zoning bylaws for that area, and the town should have - and still should - go in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals to allow that use.
"Just because you are a municipality, doesn't mean you get to make up the rules as you go along," Richardson said. "I can't find anywhere where a dog park, or anything similar or analogous to it, is a permitted use."
The Board of Selectmen tabled their vote on the one-year extension, and asked Parks and Recreation commissioners to meet with the SMA Fathers before the next selectmen meeting, scheduled for Feb. 23.
Since opening the park in November, Dello Iacono has spearheaded the formation of a 15-person committee that oversees policies and issues with the park. He also said the park is in good condition, and well received by those who use it.
On weekdays, the park receives upwards of 55 dogs each day, and on weekends upward of 75 each day, Dello Iacono said, adding that leads to increased safety within the town.
"Everyone is exercising their dogs up at the Dolan Center," Dello Iacono said.
As dusk becomes later, the dog committee will change the closing time to 5 p.m.
Parks and Recreation commissioner John Maida said the they are close to securing access to the Striar Property, and are looking at that land for the permanent home of a dog park. Maida added that, if a one-year extension was approved, they would not be back again for another one.
"It's been well recepted [sic] by the town, it's been well used by the town - there is an absolute need for it," Maida said.