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Dogs email — sample
From: Kelley, Craig
Whether you are in favor of more off-leash options in Cambridge or not, whether you like dogs or think they only belong in the suburbs (and this list has plenty of both), I think you will find this discussion of the Off Leash Working Group’s report, pasted below, interesting. There is also discussion of increases in fees and fines which I’ve snipped and pasted below.
Basically, dogs are an important part of many people’s lives in Cambridge but there are also a variety of potential conflicts involving dogs and public spaces. How to maximize the joy and community building that dog owners get out of having their dogs play with other dogs while making sure other people don’t feel pushed out of public spaces and so forth is an ongoing challenge that the committee report explores in a fair amount of detail. Along those lines, I was at a planning conference in CT last week and the keynote speaker went on at great length about the importance of dog parks in place-making and community building and bringing the added security of “eyes on the street” but I thought he shied away from discussing many of the challenges of actually siting them in urban areas. That is the really tough part. Personally, I would like to see Cambridge expand off-leash options as much as we can, realizing that not every park is suitable for off-leash options and that we need to get better at managing some of the conflict that arises out of use changes at these public spaces. If it were easy, we’d be done with it by now but it’s a balance Cambridge, and lots of other towns and cities, is still struggling to figure out.
Feel free to come speak about this issue Monday night if you wish, remembering we are meeting back at City Hall again. You can sign up by phone between 9 and 3 on Monday at 617-349-4280 or in person at City Hall between 5 and 6. Public comment sign up stops at 6, though the comment period itself starts at 5:30 and may go beyond 6:00. You may also email the entire Council at Council@Cambridgema.gov.
Thanks a lot.
All emails to and from this City address should be considered to be subject to Massachusetts’s Public Records laws. Private emails may be sent to Craig@CraigKelley.org. To be removed from this list, click here.
Committee Report #4
HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Councillor Leland Cheung, Chair
The Health and Environment Committee held a public hearing on September 23, 2015 at 2:03 P.M. in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the recommendation of the Cambridge Off Leash Working Group on dogs (ATTACHMENT A) and the steps that have been taken to implement the group recommendations in the City.
Present at the hearing were Councillor Leland Cheung, Chair of the Committee, Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Councillor Craig Kelley, Taha Jennings, Assistant to the City Manager, Mark McCabe, Animal Control Director, John Nardone, Assistant Commissioner of Operations, Public Works Department, Paul Ryder, Recreation Director, Sam Corda, Managing Director, Water Department, Ellen Kokinda, Assistant Planner, Community Development Department, Gary Chan, Associate Planner, Community Development Department and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were Sarah Capinga, Kathryn Hencir and Heidi Mitchell.
Councillor Cheung convened the hearing and explained the purpose. He stated that the City has a presentation (ATTACHMENT B). He stated that the recommendations will be reviewed together with the proposed amendment to Chapter 6.04, the Animal Control Regulations, submitted by the City Manager on July 28, 2015 (ATTACHMENT C). Councillor Cheung announced that the hearing is being audio recorded.
Mr. Jennings began with a presentation on the Dog Working Group recommendations. He stated that the City has been involved in the off leash opportunities for many years and is involved in coming up with solutions. This off leash process began in 2005 to provide legal definitions for off leash areas. In 2009 new off leash areas were dedicated. He explained what shared use locations are. He stated that shared use times are times when dogs are allowed off leash. Dogs are allowed off leash generally from 6-9 AM. Enforcement at this time could be more targeted. He stated that there an off leash brochure was created. He stated that the efforts have been successful, but there is still pressure to provide more spaces for off leash areas for dogs. He stated that the demand on open space is high. In 2013 an off leash group was formed and a draft set of recommendations was created. He stated that the final recommendations are before the committee. He highlighted the recommendations. He stated that during discussions the issue of evening hours came up. Evening hours for dogs has proven to be more challenging. This will continue to be discussed. Certain parks for dog owners proved attractive because of the interaction with other dog owners and the creation of a dog owner community. He stated that the recommendations will work within the resources of the City including enforcement. He displayed a map location of where shared uses were located before the working group began. He stated that three additional locations were added, Joan Lorentz Park, Hoyt Field and Greene rose Heritage Park. The brochure was updated. He stated that efforts are still ongoing. It is important to continue reviewing the off leash areas. He spoke about the next steps. He stated that enforcement is an important tool. City staff will continue to evaluate the recommendations. Overall, he stated, that a positive approach was taken on this issue without pitting one group against another. The recommendations are important and the right step moving in the right direction on this issue. He thanked the dog working group for their work.
At 2:18 PM Councillor Cheung opened the hearing to public comment.
Katherine Hencir stated that she was part of the pilot group and has enjoyed the process.
Heidi Mitchell stated that this was a collaborative effort. The last time this was addressed was 2009. She stated that there was a request for interactive community focus around dogs.
Councillor Cheung closed public comment at 2:20 PM.
Councillor Cheung was pleased with the trajectory of off leash laws. He stated that dogs are everywhere in the City. He stated that Fresh Pond and Pacific Street seem to be working well. He wanted to know where this goes from here. He wanted to see an overlap of opportunities throughout the City for dog areas. He spoke about the self-policing by dog owners for dog waste removal. The recommendation to revisit this is appropriate. He wanted to know where the map can be expanded. He stated that there is a request to continue dog hours at Gold Star Park. He noted that East Cambridge needs more off leash areas. He spoke about increasing the signage for off leash hours.
Mr. Jennings stated that the map needs to be expanded, but it cannot be expanded without being incorporated into the overall park planning process. The community needs to be involved. Sacramento Field will be part of the open space process. The recommendations are to ensure that the opportunities are not being missed. It is too early to tell how the new off leash areas are working.
John Nardone stated that the off leash parks are really shared used area. Three of the new areas are passive areas. As these parks will be reviewed and in a year there may be a better understanding.
Ellen Kokinda stated that the majority of Cambridge residents have licensed dogs at Joan Lorentz Park. There are new residents which were given information about the shared use. At Joan Lorentz Park the issue is about the hours; there is still a request for evening hours.
Councillor Cheung asked if evening hours work for off leashed areas. Mr. Jennings stated that the competing uses need to be reviewed, location by location. There was no easy solution. He noted that parks are open from dawn to dusk.
Councillor Cheung stated that after dusk could be an opportunity. He asked about signage opportunities. Mr. Jennings stated that signage is the next step. Signage was discussed and needs to be friendly and will be the next implementation steps. Ideas for new signage will be discussed.
Councillor Kelley stated that he is amazed at the progress made. He wants dog parks and off leash areas expanded. He spoke about dogs being a connection to the community. He stated that conflicts can be resolved with ongoing discussions. How are better conversations held on issues such as this? He spoke about off leash dog behavior. He stated that there are negatives and the City needs to be up front on the negative issues. He did not want the dog officers viewed as the "bad guys." He suggested that the conversation needs to keep going and expand off leash areas. He stated that people need to be engaged in volunteer ways.
Councillor Cheung noted that Mr. McCabe and other animal control officers engage people in a friendly way.
Councillor McGovern spoke about the dedicated off leash areas, how big do they need to be. There are mostly small parks in the City and could smaller spaces be dedicated dog parks. Mr. Jennings stated that for an off leash space the area needed is 10,000 square feet. He noted that regardless of the size the process needs to be followed and the community needs to be involved. Councillor McGovern stated that he has heard concerns about the Fresh Pond off leash area. He spoke about the possibility of conflict.
Mr. McCabe stated that there have not been many complaints at Fresh Pond; there has been a decrease since the ranger is at Fresh Pond. Mr. Corda stated that there are few complaints and when they occur they are dealt with. Councillor McGovern asked about Kingsley Park. Mr. Corda stated that a portion of Kingsley was renovated and the intent is to have the lower Kingsley Park be a shared use in the summer but a leashed area in the winter because of winter sports.
Paul Ryder noted that there are days where the play fields area unusable for sports. Mr. Corda stated that spring and fall are questionable use time. Councillor McGovern asked if the private land owners were asked for partnerships to use fenced in space by members of the community. He asked when dog owners could realize more tangible use and benefit. Mr. Jennings stated that new shared use is for hours in the AM; it is hard to put a time limit on this. He stated that the City wants to be proactive about education. He stated that the majority of dog owners are responsible and police themselves. There are limits to what can be done in a short time frame, but want all to feel welcome at the parks and keep having the discussions. Councillor McGovern asked if the brochures were distributed when dogs are licensed. Mr. McCabe stated that the brochures were sent out to 4,000 residents and they are given out in the office. He stated that if a dog runs at a person or another dog a dog officer or ranger can issue a citation because the dog is supposed to be under control of the owner. A dog must be in control at all times.
Councillor Carlone commented that the report is well organized and broad. He noted that near the golf course at Fresh Pond seems to be a place where people gather and asked why not have a dedicated area for dogs at Fresh Pond? He commented about incorporating an area in Kendall Square. Councillor Carlone stated that Rogers Park should easily be incorporated as a dog area. He commented about open space. He stated that the bigger issue is getting to Fresh Pond and the Riverfront with a dog. He stated that there are few legal places to cross a system of crosswalks is needed.
Councillor Kelley questioned how the city is improving spaces such as Danehy Park and the budgeting impact. Mr. Jennings stated that some areas will need to be improved and updated. Funding is reviewed as an open space need. Mr. Nardone spoke about Pacific Street and informed the committee that $225,000 was received from CPA funding and was set aside for improvements to Pacific Street Park. The surfacing at Pacific will be changed, shade and a water park for the dogs will be created. He spoke about the needed surface that can stand up to dogs. Mr. Ryder spoke about more shade areas for dogs and he also spoke about investigating a better surface material. Councillor Kelley noted that dog parks create a sense of community.
Councillor Cheung asked Mr. McCabe to explain the changes contained in the ordinance amendment. Mr. McCabe outlined the changes in Attachment C.
Councillor Kelley asked what the difference is between a dog officer and animal control officer. Mr. McCabe explained that an animal control officer has more training provided by the animal control officers association. An Animal Control Officer handles all types of animals not just dogs.
Councillor Cheung submitted the following motions:
RESOLVED: That the City Council go on record thanking the City staff and the Off Leash Working Group for all their work on this issue.
The motion carried on a voice vote of three members.
ORDERED: That the City Council go on record endorsing the Off Leash Working Group Recommendations with a favorable recommendation.
The motion carried on a voice vote of three members.
ORDERED: That the proposed amendment to the Municipal Code to Chapter 6.04 entitled "Animal Control Regulations" be removed from the table and passed to a second reading with a favorable recommendation.
The motion carried on a voice vote of three members.
Councillor Cheung thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 3:19 P.M.
For the Committee,
Craig Kelley home