As a resident of the vicinity of Claflin Park for more than 40 years, I feel compelled to voice my strong opposition to the off-leash Newton Parks and Recreation Commission proposal to allow Claflin to become an off-leash dog park. Children can be intimidated by a bouncy, frisky pet. This spring I watched that happen to my granddaughter as we were in the area having fun, when a curious dog approached us and she "froze." I immediately reassured her that she was safe, but our visit was sadly curtailed. Unleashed dogs can be threatening to any and all. The responsibility of cleaning up the waste after one's pet is questionable, at best.
When deciding to have a pet, one must make some very careful choices, decisions and plans for the welfare of their pet. May I be so bold as to suggest that off-leash play areas could be one's backyard. I know that's true for many pet owners. There has been some discussion of fee for use of the park. Is the City looking at this proposal as yet another revenue source?
Originally, the small designated space was a paved parking lot for the Claflin School community. During the '70's the Claflin School PTO, in response to the community needs, cleared the area and planted grass so that the children could play in a grassy space. A fence was installed for safety during informal ball play and sledding. It was and continues to be a very pleasant addition for the neighborhood.
Earlier a small area of the former Newton North High School field contained minimal playground equipment and served as an alternative recreation area. Once the construction of the new Newton North began, that playground was no longer accessible. To my knowledge, there are no plans for a neighborhood playground at the new Newton North. Granted that Claflin Field lacks playground equipment, nonetheless it has provided a friendly, though small, alternative space for games, practice and sledding when weather permits during the construction process. To allow off-leash dogs there is a dreadful mistake, placing pets' needs before humans' health and safety. This concerns me deeply.
Newton Board of Alderman, Parks and Recreation Commissioners: Please don't waste our small, but treasured, Claflin Field.