Stonington selectmen agree to form dog park committee to possibly resolve lawsuit

Stonington — The Board of Selectmen supported a proposal Wednesday night to form a 10-member committee that would develop recommendations concerning the unofficial dog park at the Town Dock.

In exchange for doing so, two neighbors of the park have agreed to put on hold their lawsuit against the town over the park.

First Selectman Rob Simmons said the agreement was the result of a meeting he had last week with Laura Ann Gabrysch and Frank Mastrapasqua, who own a Front Street home that borders the park, and their attorney to discuss ways to settle the dispute.

The couple has said the town promised to set up the committee in the past but failed to do so.

The committee will include two neighbors of the park, a borough resident, town resident, a member at large, representatives from the Water Pollution Control Authority, Board of Police Commissioners and Waterfront Commission, a dog park user and a borough burgess. Gabrysch and Mastrapasqua will be two of the members.

Simmons said the committee will make recommendations about whether the Town Dock is a suitable location for a dog park, if there are better locations in town for a park and, if it is suitable, what improvements and regulations are needed to meet national standards and not interfere with the rights of neighbors.

Simmons said 40 communities across the state have dog parks and he is researching model dog park rules.

The selectmen formally will vote to form the committee Jan. 13. This will give residents two weeks to express interest in serving.

Selectman Mike Spellman said the agreement gives the town a chance “to mediate instead of litigate.”

The couple alleges that the “illegal dog park” poses a danger to the public, interferes with the “quiet enjoyment” of their property as well as the right of other residents to use their properties.

They say the town has not obtained required borough zoning approval for the park, refused to enforce the borough leash law and failed to prevent dog waste from polluting adjacent Stonington Harbor.

Their attorney has said the couple tried to work out a solution with former First Selectmen Ed Haberek and George Crouse.

j.wojtas@theday.com

Twitter: @joewojtas

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