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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
|Because Neighborhoods Count|
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. . . Other towns and cities, such as Brookline, have met this shared-use challenge with great success. There is no reason why Cambridge cannot do the same . . .
Dogs belong too
The City Council's recent focus on providing more options for dog owners is the right thing to do for all City residents. Both dog owners, who would like accessible places to exercise and socialize their pets, and non-dog owners, many of whom would just as soon not worry about running into off-leash dogs at local parks, would benefit tremendously from a program that sets out, and then enforces, clear and reasonable expectations for how we can all share our limited common spaces.
Despite this recent and welcome flurry of Council interest, an underlying question is, “will anything actually change?” Dog owners have been seeking expanded access to parks for years and, for an equal number of years, the City has just said 'no.' This City Council has been in office for almost four years and in that time dog owners have seen little more than the occasional Council Order expressing support for various but controversial pro-dog concepts. Virtually nothing concrete has been done. As with so many other issues, from crosswalk safety to parking studies, the Council is happy to pass Orders, but loath to make the City Manager actually follow them. On this issue, I hope the Council is willing to push the City Manager to move quickly to provide the resources dog owners are looking for.
Cambridge is a small, densely packed city. To make off-leash hours and dog parks work will take lot of effort and a lot of compromise by everyone. But almost any reasonable program would work better than our current 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, an informal arrangement that leaves dog owners feeling like scofflaws and has many non-dog owners wondering at what hours neighborhood parks will be dog-free.
Other towns and cities, such as Brookline, have met this shared-use challenge with great success. There is no reason why Cambridge cannot do the same. And soon.