Bedford dog park an election issue
Friday, March 8, 2013
The March 12 elections offer opportunities for residents to cast their votes for candidates for town and school district seats. Nevertheless, of high interest to dog lovers and taxpayers is Article III – Dog Park.
Approval for use of town land on a parcel located on Nashua Road near Bedford High School was granted in January 2012. The Bedford Friends of Canine Corner, a private nonprofit organization, had committed to funding the construction of the dog park with funds privately raised from supporters of the project.
Nonetheless, the Article III Dog Park notation on the ballot will delve into further procedures.
The first question asked in Article III relates to whether the voter, “is in favor of the construction of a dog park on Nashua Road, with the cost of construction fully funded in advance by a private citizens group.”
The second question asks if a dog park is constructed on Nashua Road using privately raised funds,should: A) The town of Bedford operate and maintain the dog park with funds included in the annual town operating budget, taxpayer funded; B) Should the town operate and maintain the dog park provided the funds are raised privately for all continuing and future costs; or C) The dog park should only be privately funded, operated and maintained subject to a lease with the town.
Friends of Canine Corner mission, according to www.bedfordcaninecorner.org, is to establish a gated, off-leash community space for dogs and their owners to promote a safe and quality recreational experience for residents and their pets. The information there notes the presence of about 3,500 registered dogs in Bedford.
Jessie Levine, Bedford town manager, has said that while she is a dog owner and fully enthusiastic about dog ownership, the town’s priorities are services including fire, police, roads and infrastructure, the transfer station, the library and general safety.
“I do not believe that a dog park can exist on town property without some oversight of the town,” Levine said on Tuesday. “It is up to the voters to decide if they are comfortable with the commitment of town resources for this purpose.”
Fred Hurwitz, a resident of Bedford for seven years, is the owner of two dogs, family pets. He and his wife, Sue, train seeing eye dogs. He became involved in the dog park project about three years ago when the Town Council appointed a subcommittee to work with Bedford’s Parks and Recreation Department to investigate the ramifications of establishing a dog park.
Research on locations was conducted, along with investigations related to sound mitigation and other issues. An expert was engaged to explore site layout, the kinds of materials that could be used and concerns such as fencing, parking and the like.
Hurwitz said what passed in January was a motion that a suitable contract be formed. A drafted contract was submitted but town councilors expressed preferences for granting a lease on the land.
“What was being proposed was that we take the park private and take responsibility for the construction and the maintenance of the park,” Hurwitz said.”None of us ever signed up for actually running the park. We were offering, as a nonprofit, the costs of construction and ongoing maintenance – cleanup, taking care of equipment, mowing, things of that nature. We plan to raise all the funds for the construction of the park before the construction begins.”
Hurwitz urges supporters to vote for (Choice) B – that the town of Bedford operate and maintain the dog park provided the funds are raised privately for all continuing and future costs. When it comes to choice C, he said, there is no organization anywhere around that could fund, operate and maintain the park as a lease.
“Voting for C is the same as voting ‘No’ for a park,” Hurwitz said. “Parks are not just for dogs, they are for people, too. It is a community space where people get together to talk while their dogs play.”
For election results, visit www.bedfordnh.org.