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Somerville to consider new off leash dog program

Posted by Jarret Bencks  March 15, 2013 09:52 AM

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A program allowing more parks in Somerville to be open to off-leash dogs has been proposed by an alderman.

Alderman Dennis Sullivan offered that the city implement a program similar to Brookline's Green Dog program, allowing off-leash dogs in certain parks in limited hours for a fee. The city currently has two dog parks, but their locations -- one is in East Somerville and one near Union Square -- are not convenient for many dog owners, Sullivan said.

"It creates an area where dog owners can recreate and exercise close to their home,'' he said of the proposal.

Sullivan noted that Brookline's program charged a higher fee for non-residents. Professional dog walkers from outside communities often take as many as 10 dogs to the city's dog parks at once, Sullivan said.

"I'm not sure how I feel about that, ...we're augmenting that person's business and we're not getting anything for it," he said.

Alderwoman Maryann Heuston said she has heard from residents already concerned that their local park may be turned into a dog park.

"I think we have to take it by a park-by-park basis," she said.

Brookline's Green Dog Program offers limited access to parts of 14 parks to off-leash dogs. Dog owners must pay an annual fee of $50 for Brookline residents and $100 for non-residents. Commercial dog walkers from Brookline pay $100, while non-residents pay $200. Guest passes are also available.

Sullivan's proposal that a committee, to be chosen by Aldermen President Bill White, review a new off-leash dog program was approved without objection.

Alderman Bruce Desmond said he was curious to see how such a program would be regulated.

"There's a lot of policing going on if this doesn't go correctly," he said.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.


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