AMHERST – An underutilized ball field at the Robb’s Centennial Complex on LaPlanche Street is being suggested as the site for an off-leash dog park pilot project.
Town staff made the suggestion to town council earlier this fall after conducting three public workshops in August and September. While Facebook posts indicated a deep interest in an off-leash dog park prior to the workshops, only 36 people attended the sessions.
Those attending were provided with best practices from other jurisdictions and an overview of the project, including six town-owned locations where an off-leash dog park could be located. Those included Donald Avenue near the community garden, Park Street at the Northern Telecom park, Beacon Street adjacent to the Little League baseball field, the wooded area of Dickey Park, Motor Avenue adjacent to the marsh and marsh trail and the Robb complex on LaPlanche Street.
In a survey completed by people attending the workshops, the majority favoured the Robb complex for the park and indicated they would use it on a daily or weekly basis, mostly in the evenings.
The majority said park size, a water source and a separate area for smaller dogs were important features. Concerns were also expressed about cleanliness, maintenance, dog conflicts and dogs getting loose.
The survey indicated 22 of the participants were willing to sit on a dog-park committee.
Asked where they currently walk their dogs, the majority indicated they travelled a loop around Church, East Victoria, Willow and Spring streets.
Based on the survey, staff recommended conducting a pilot project as a way of gauging the interest in such a park before making a significant capital investment.
“The creation of a basic off-leash space within an existing facility could provide information around the demand for such a facility, the needed amenities and how best to manage it,” a recent report to council stated.
Selection of Robb complex was influenced by survey results favouring the site and the fact the recreation department said the ball fields are underutilized – even during the baseball season.
“Repurposing one of the diamonds would not impact existing user groups and would be ideal for an off-leash park pilot project,” the report said, adding a diamond would provide ample space and the facility already had fencing, off-street parking and a water source.
A preliminary inspection indicated relatively minor revisions to the field would be needed to make one of the fields dog-user friendly.
The next step for recreation and planning staff is to develop a detailed plan for council that outlines the steps needed to be taken to use the Robb complex as a possible pilot project for an off-leash dog park.
The town is still interested in gauging the public’s interest in an off-leash dog park. Citizens can find the survey presented at the workshops at Amherst.ca. Completed surveys can be dropped off at town hall or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.