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WHAT YOU'RE SAYING: SMA and Dogs

Clergy opposes an extension to a temporary dog park on Common Street.

Father Dermot Roache, director of the SMA Fathers, spoke out against a proposal to allow a  to remain next to the  for another year.

"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.

Karen February 10, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I cant believe dogs come before residents. Find another place!
Mary Von Schoppe February 10, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I am glad so many residents are using it. It is needed. I believe there are over 1000 registered dogs in Dedham. They are looking into other places. I hope they get the extension for the year until they can find another place. I am sorry to hear that the SMA fathers are so set against it. Perhaps a happy ending for all parties can be met. I hope so.
Avon Barksdale February 10, 2012 at 02:03 PM
"I can't find anywhere where a dog park, or anything similar or analogous to it, is a permitted use." Did you find anywhere that it is NOT a permitted use? Because that would be a lot more important.
paul true February 10, 2012 at 04:46 PM
i THINK PROPER RESPECT SHOULD BE GIVE TO FATHER ROACHE. by NOT referring to him as Roache. It is FATHER Roache
Timothy Robertson February 10, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Hi Paul, Referring to him as "Roache" after the first reference to him is the proper way as dictated by the Associated Press Stylebook, the style of grammar used by a vast majority of newspapers - and Patches - throughout the country. It isn't a question of respect, but only one of journalism standards. The same goes for Dedham Police Chief Michael d'Entremont, who is referred to d'Entremont on any subsequent reference in a story. Any questions, please email me at timothyr@patch.com.
Lola February 10, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Check out Town of Brookline's Green Dog Program....
Marcie Freeman February 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Of COURSE humans come before dogs. However, this issue can't be reduced simply. Caution might be used in responding to this issue given that all facts have not been aired. The temporary dog park has provided a new community in Dedham, where dogs play together, and dog owners (people) experience a great community. It also provides a secure place for these activities, ensuring that other locations in town aren't used inappropriately for of-leash play. The appreciation of such a location keeps us, adults all, respectful of the property, the rules and most of all, the abutting residents, the SMA. The park is remarkably quiet (not like yapping kennels), clean (we DO pick up after the dogs), and without odor (lime and wood chips are regularly applied). There is care among the park users to respect the living conditions of Father Roache and the other SMA residents, whose home is separated from the park by a parking area and grass. EVERYONE, Parks and Rec Commissioner and dog park users, has an interest in respecting the SMA property. The recent meeting was the first time that Father Roache has presented his concerns. Had he done so at any earlier point, he would have been met with willingness to address his concerns, a spirit of neighborliness and collaboration. Many potential solutions to his concerns exist, none have been explored. It takes communication and willingness to make good neighbors, and on the side of the Dedham Dog Park, all are willing. Respectfully,
Sandra February 11, 2012 at 08:26 PM
As a Dedham resident and dog owner, I cannot say enough positive things about the park. Not only do the dogs get natural, fabulous exercise that is important to their health, but I have met some wonderful folks. People are responsible and respectful towards the park and each other. I've met fun and fabulous 10 years old children as well as sweet and caring elderly people who need this park to help them take care of their dogs. If any of the allegations of misuse are true, I'm sure they can be addressed. I haven't met anyone at the park who has shown any disrespect for the property or residents of SMA. This isn't just a dog park, it's a community park where people come to share a common bond and are forging relationships that will outlive this park location.
Eric C February 11, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Whether or not you've taken your four-legged friend to the dog park or not, if you support the park and want to see it continue, please speak out and share your thoughts with the Board of Selectmen. As it stands right now, they'll take up an extension for the park at their February 23 meeting. You don't have to write a novel, just send off a short note asking them to please keep the park alive! You can reach them all via email at: Jim MacDonald JimMacDonald2003@aol.com Carmen DelloIacono cksdel@aol.com Mike Butler mikebutler53@comcast.net Paul Reynolds paul@fablevision.com Sarah MacDonald sarah@sarahforselectman.com All 5 BoS freshideas@dedham-ma.gov
Fred Civian February 12, 2012 at 06:23 PM
ummmm . . . the dogs aren't there by themselves . . . behind every dog is at least one human. We all have a right to call for otherwise beneficial land uses to be located away from us for various reasons. That's why NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) is so widespread: it's generally bona fide. The difficult responsibility that the Selectmen and Parks and Rec Commissioners have is to balance the competing interests in a way that doesn't lead to BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.)
PDP February 13, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Why do dogs & their owners bother them but not kids playing ball? Isn't there a certain amount of noise when there are outdoor programs going on in the field as well? ""Individuals - they are there whistling, shouting for the dogs," he said." And when they are having games isn't there shouting and cheering going on with that? Is it just because they don't do it at 7 in the morning? It would be a shame to close the field at 5 when it gets dark later. Maybe it would help to open it at 9 or 10 instead when the noise wouldn't bother them as much?
Laura Simone February 15, 2012 at 01:01 PM
As a Dedham Resident and a dog owner I have to say that the dog park is a great place. Not only do the dogs get to run around and burn off excess energy but the owners get to know each other. On the many times that I have been there, there is not an excess of noise yes there are people whistling and calling their dogs but I have also been to many of the towns different sport games and the volume of people talking, shouting to their kids and cheering is much higher. I also agree that it would be a shame to close the field at 5 when it gets dark later in the day. Some people work until 5 and would not be able to use the park after work to exercise their dogs. This park promotes responsible pet ownership and the enforcement of dog-control laws; gives dogs a place to exercise safely, thus reducing barking and other problem behaviors; provide seniors and disabled owners with an accessible place to exercise their companions; and provide an area for community-building socializing. Dogs that are highly socialized and exercised are healthier and happier, and less aggressive in behavior. They are less likely to bark, or be destructive or aggressive if they are able to expend pent-up energy during regular play or exercise. So they are better dogs for the town all around. Please keep our dog park open.
Jessica Porter February 15, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Can someone refresh my memory as to how the town acquired the Dolan Center land in the first place? I thought we had bought it from the SMA Fathers. At the time of the sale, did they understand the likelihood that the space would be used for recreation? I've been to the dog park and have found it to be a wonderful addition to our parks and recreation offerings in town. In addition to all of the reasons noted in the other comments, I think the dog park has provided a wonderful forum for community building among us humans, not just the dogs. I've met wonderful people and can see strong connections forming among people who otherwise wouldn't cross paths. The dog park is a great example of how public space can build community and get people of all ages outdoors. I think it adds real breadth to the parks and rec department and hope that the SMA Fathers can appreciate the value it adds to our whole community, human and canine, dog owners and non owners.
Father Daniel Lynch, SMA February 26, 2012 at 04:58 PM
As an SMA Father who once lived on that beautiful tract of land by the Charles River, I have wonderful memories of walking the fields and woods of our property on both sides of Common Street. I remember the fox, deer and pheasants and the sounds of owls in the night. There was a soundless solitude and beauty with the coming of each season.I favor more the wildness of nature than the "domesticity" of dogs and their owners. However, many of the Fathers surrendered this pristine area with little forethought and appreciation for the aesthetics of the wild and now must "reap what they sold." Can we really dictate now how this land is to be used? I would simply recommend that we sell the property and look at many other areas surrounding Boston. St. John of the Cross said "that we live where we love." It's hard to live here now and even harder to love what this land has become. Why contest dog owners and the Town? In Robert Frost's words "I see for nature no defeat / In one tree's overthrow / Or for myself in my retreat / For yet another blow." Fr.Daniel Lynch, SMA

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