The Planning Commission continues to consider the proposition of a dog park for Redding at the community center, planning Commissioner Toby Welles said by phone Monday.
The commission has been tasked by the Board of Selectmen to provide a non-binding advisement on the park.
The lead advocate for the park is Joel Barlow High School student Max Daignault, whose family recently bought a dog and has a problem walking it on area roads, and socializing it with other dogs.
He could not be reached for comment for this article.
Daignault originally proposed, in December, that the dog park be placed near the Redding Community Center, behind the tennis courts.
He also proposed he would fund the construction of fences, benches, and a shade area entirely through private donations.
The Barlow student has made a number of presentations about the project to the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Commission, but the town’s planners are taking their time considering the idea.
“We want to make the best decision for all parties involved,” said Welles.
The Planning Commission recognizes that the proposed park could have “an impact on neighbors, so if it’s going to be situated at the community center, we want to make sure there is indeed demand for the park, and make sure there will be ongoing maintenance,” he said.
Welles said the commission has heard formal and informal anecdotes about dog parks in other areas where there is no maintenance and “basically lots of dog poop everywhere.”
“We want to make sure when this is established it is well planned for, and won’t become a problem,” he said. “We want to make sure the cleanup of the park is guaranteed by some party over time as to not burden the town. We don’t want to launch the idea, have it go well for three or four years, and then have things fall apart.”
Of the project, the commissioners have two major remaining questions, Welles said.
They would like to know “how many people are actually going to use this,” and whether Daignault has conducted a “diligent” search for other sites.
Daignault brought the commission a petition with more than 900 signatures of residents in favor of the park, “but that’s not quite the same as people who will actually use it,” Welles said.
“We need a bit more information. We’d like him to look at other sites beyond the one next to the community garden — where many residents go for peace and quiet — and some places where houses are less proximate,” he said
“We’re asking them to do a more diligent search for alternative locations and get more data.”
Welles added that the Planning Commission is the “town body that drafts the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development, and the body which deals with open space regulations and things like that.”
When considering Daignault’s plan, the commissioners informally agree the idea of a dog park conforms to the “ethos of the Plan of Conservation and Development,” which includes language “about the use of land for passive recreation.”
But, Welles said, the commission “just wants to make sure [the dog park does] not provide a small benefit with large negative impacts.
“Once we’ve heard all of that information, we will make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen. They will look at it on their own and make a decision.”