Above: The South Kingstown Dog Park. Photo by SKDPA
Town officials and some residents gathered at the EGPD Community Room earlier this month to talk about East Greenwich establishing a dog park. As Community Services Director Andy Wade said at the outset, the town does not actually have a dog park, even though many residents and others have come to treat Scalloptown Park as the town’s de facto dog park.
Residents have talked about a dog park for many years. Most notably, resident Steve Bartlett tried to make it happen 10 or so years ago. But officials never took up the cause. That appears to be changing. In part, that’s because They have know in part because many residents who filled out the Community Services survey last spring said they wanted to dog park. And, as Wade noted, dog parks are as much for people as dogs – providing important social connections – so it makes sense to add one.
Deciding that the town should have a dog park is the easy part, of course. Figuring out where it will be and who would oversee it are bigger questions.
Wade said he expected to have some kind of public-private collaboration in terms of running the park – a “Friends of EG Dog Park” for instance.
The sorts of things a really good dog park should have include:
- Plenty of parking
- Different sections for smaller and larger dogs
- Dog waste stations
- Access to bathrooms and water
- Community investment
Even better, the park would have shade, permeable surfaces and agility and water play spaces. But, as Wade said, if you build such a “Shangri La,” dogs and their owners will come.
At least an acre of land is needed, Wade said, and water is needed. One site that has been under consideration is next to the town Recreation building on Frenchtown Road. Right now, there is a small playground on the site and lots of parking for Frenchtown Park (which also serves as overflow parking for Frenchtown Elementary where there are big events).
The town is also looking into whether or not some sort of smaller area for dogs could exist at Scalloptown. As a capped landfill, that site has some limitations in terms of what can be done there and there is no water at that site.
One resident at the Feb. 9 meeting asked about creating a dog park at Fry Brook Park, the area at the end of Avenger Drive. Wade said one issue with that idea would be allowing closer access to East Greenwich High School for a larger number of people.
One issue to keep in mind was proximity to neighborhoods, Wade said. It was a point appreciated by resident Paul Cullinane, who said he’d lived by a dog park in Virginia and it had been very hard on the neighborhood, bringing lots of barking and parking problems, as well as dogs who decided to “do their business” as soon as they got out of the car, leaving a mess behind.
What happens next? Wade said a lot more public discussion was needed. The first opportunity could be at the March 13 Town Council meeting, when an updated version of the Community Services Master Plan will be presented.