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    Monday, March 27, 2023

    Stonington committee reaches consensus on dog park issues

    Stonington — The committee trying to find a solution to the controversy surrounding the unofficial dog park at the Town Dock reached consensus Wednesday on possible modifications for the property, as well as exploring two other possible sites for a dog park.

    Members of the Sewer Treatment Expansion Parcel Ad Hoc Committee, led by Chairman and First Selectman Rob Simmons, methodically went through a list of dog park issues, taking a vote on how to proceed on each one.

    The decisions are not final but intended to give the committee some direction as it prepares a final recommendation to the Board of Selectmen.

    The committee is expected to make that recommendation in two weeks.

    Committee members agreed on the idea of modifying current park rules and decreasing the size of the area that dogs can access from 36,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet.

    This would create a buffer, possibly with plantings, between the dogs and neighbors.

    Members also agreed that the park should have fencing, adequate parking and two gates to form an entry area before the main park.

    In addition, all dog owners must have a leash with them and use it to bring dogs to and from the park and all dogs must have current vaccinations. Fighting and dangerous dogs or those in heat would not be allowed.

    The members also agreed on a two-dog-per-person limit, that users would have to be age 12 or older, and each dog would have to have a collar and license tag.

    Committee members rejected the idea of charging a user fee for the park but said the town could accept tax-deductible donations to help maintain the site.

    The committee supported the idea of possibly establishing a dog park behind West Vine Street School.

    They were evenly split on creating one on land at the Pawcatuck sewer treatment plant.

    Members rejected the idea of having a dog park at the town transfer station, behind the Human Services Department and in the Spellman Drive recreation area behind the high school.

    Last year, Laura Ann Gabrysch and Frank Mastrapasqua, who own a Front Street home that borders the park, sued the town, alleging it has been operating an “illegal dog park,” that it has not received any permits or zoning approvals for the park, that it poses a danger to the public and is a nuisance.

    Other neighbors also have complained about incessant barking and shouting, feces strewn about and harassment by dog park users.

    Simmons created the committee this winter as way to help resolve the lawsuit.

    After initially putting the suit on hold with the creation of the committee, the couple said it was displeased with the charge given to members and how they were chosen.

    Their suit is now moving forward.

    At a hearing two weeks ago, most of the speakers were in favor of allowing the dog park to continue operating and disputed claims by some neighbors that it is a nuisance.


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