Thursday, 4:30 PM
Dog park is in the works, but some bark at project
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff
It is noontime at Peters Park, a ragged piece of ground tucked between Victorian row houses in the South End where people are arriving with droves of dogs.
There is excitement in the air, mostly from the dogs who come straining at the ends of leashes and whimpering to get into the scrum of pets romping in the dirt inside a ratty chain-link fence.
After years of the park being used as an unofficial dog playground, Peters Park advocates are planning a $250,000 renovation to convert the land into the cityís first sanctioned dog park and a canine paradise.
Itís to have dog water fountains (built low so they can lap at ground level), designated big-dog and small-dog areas, and a special "dog walk of fame" that will contain memorials for past pets in the shapes of paws. Double gates will help prevent dogs from escaping a big fenced play area when others enter.
For the dog owners, there are to be acorn street lights, custom benches, new trees, and flowering shrubs.
The chain-link fence is to be replaced with wrought iron. A bench will be dedicated to the late Gerry Studds, the former congressman who was a frequent park visitor.
"It will be really nice," said Dan Sullivan, a real estate agent who several times a day walks his Boston terrier, Yoda, who was clad Monday in a blue sweater. "This is like a community backyard."
It is perhaps an inevitable development in a neighborhood now supporting dog catering services and a dog bakery, along with more standard services such as grooming.
But the South End is also home to a growing resentment toward dogs and their owners, and nearby residents have mounted opposition, saying the dogs bring unwanted sounds, sights, and smells to the neighborhood.
"They pee on my doorway," said Kwong Lim, who lives in a nearby row house. "They make a mess. There are so many flies around here. In the summertime, you canít open the door."
Lim has spearheaded a letter-writing campaign to oppose the project. Some 160 residents opposed to the park sent letters to the city, he said.
The cityís Parks and Recreation Commission held a meeting Monday, as part of a review process that is expected to come to a vote next month. If the commission approves the project, construction could be finished by fall.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.