Proposal would see former park property used as leash-free facility
AMHERST - What Susanne MacLeod is proposing could be music to dog lovers.
The Amherst resident is proposing converting a small section of the former Dickey Park property into a leash-free dog park.
"It's an area where people and dogs can go and interact," said MacLeod, who recently moved to Amherst from Ontario where these parks are prevalent. "By law you need to have your dog on a leash. In a leash-free dog park you'll be able to your dog gets its exercise in controlled leash-free environment."
A dog park is a large, enclosed area where owners can allow their dogs to run off-leash with other dogs. MacLeod estimates there are more than 300 dogs in Amherst with between 30 and 40 per cent of households having a dog.
At present, dog owners have to take their animals to the marsh or to the bird sanctuary to let them run leash-free.
"There's no place in Amherst for people to allow their dogs to run freely and socialize with other dogs," she said. "Dogs need exercise to prevent problems for their owners."
MacLeod feels a dog park would be beneficial to the town in that it would help promote Amherst's reputation as an innovative, exceptional place to live in that it would provide a safe, secure site for owners to exercise their dogs.
She feels a dog park would provide a social setting for dog owners, promote higher compliance with existing laws, minimize the need for fencing in neighbourhoods where fencing is discouraged along with encouraging responsible dog ownership.
MacLeod's proposal is just one of several for the former park property.
One other proposal is for a disc golf park. MacLeod feels her proposal would work because it only requires a small percentage of the park property, roughly three acres out of the approximately 17 acres the park makes up.
She understands there may be some concern about a dog park, but believes those obstacles can be overcome. She said the park could be fenced in to prevent dogs from leaving the park and said the park would only operate during the daylight hours to cut down on noise.
There would also strict rules on use of the park. For example, all dogs must be properly licensed and vaccinated and owners would be required to pick up after their dogs and must closely supervise their dogs.
"It's a rather inexpensive idea because all you need is a couple of benches, a water supply and some garbage bins," she said.
MacLeod has presented her proposal to the town, but has no idea when she will get an answer. The town is in the midst of a study of the park's future use.