Fenced dog park causes concern

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The town has fenced in a portion of the existing Riverfront dog park. These are my concerns. • The fenced area has destroyed important natural habitat of the deer and fox. • The park is within easy walking distance of the much larger, forthcoming $300,000 fenced dog park along Highway 22 • Less than one-quarter of the fenced area will be used by dogs. • Runners, walkers, and bicyclists who do not want to go past the open dog park can easily take the existing paved path around it. • The fence is a blight on the natural landscape The fence parallels a natural border along the hill, a ravine full of boulders. Dogs will not cross it, the foxes can cross it, and the deer can jump it. The fenced area now blocks this natural wildlife corridor. The back of the fenced area goes up a steep hill, it too is a natural border, covered with scrub brush, and never used by dogs. It is a good place for the foxes to hunt and hang out because their dens are close. At the bottom of this hill there is a wide patch of tall cross that is a part of the marshland. The dogs do not play in this area; it is where deer sleep. Next to the tall grass there are two large mounds of dirt covered in weeds. The mounds were previously made from dirt taken from another project in the area, sprayed with grass mulch, and then overtaken by weeds. These mounds of dirt were unnecessary, are out of place, and definitely not an area where dogs play. The fence destroys wildlife habitat, destroys the beauty of the park, creates an area in which less than one-quarter of the space will be usable by dogs, all the while spending $300,000 to fence in a much larger dog park that is within walking distance. I was told that the town was working with a group called the “Cochrane Off Leash Advocacy Group” (OLAG). Although the town and the group may be well intended, this project was not properly communicated to taxpayers or regular users of the park. It behooves the town to keep their website up to date, post notices in parks, and utilize their online notification system to effectively communicate its intents in such matters. The interests of a few should definitely not take precedence over those who actually use the park on a regular basis. Having walked this park every day at least once a day for six years, I am without doubt, deeply disappointed and awestruck with such a poor decision and design, and the lack of communication by the town. For those of you who appreciate the beauty of the park, have concerns over the destruction of wildlife habitat, the waste of taxpayer’s money, and the lack of public input, I suggest you call the town and voice your discontent. Ron Hodges

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