Planning Commission still considering dog park for Redding

The proposed location of a dog park for Redding on the Redding Community Center property.

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.”

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  • Alex Gray

    Great idea since Redding has so much surplus $$$$ why not spending on our dogs?

    • Normnutman

      it would be funded by private dollars.

      • Alex Gray

        Is the land free? Does the town collect taxes on the land?

        • Normnutman

          Sec. 12-81(4) states that municipal property held for public use is exempt from paying taxes. So, to answer your question – no.

          Is the land free? Yes, unless there are plans for the Town to sell it off, but that is a different discussion all together.

          Before you ask about maintenance – That is to be privately funded based on what I have read.

          Not arguing for or against the park – just stating facts for you.

  • Alex Gray

    So let me see if we understand this correctly. Redding collects land like some people collects stamps, which by the way pays taxes the same way stamps collectors do. To balance that, Redding builds churches which pays the same amount of taxes as stamp collectors. Than Redding donates the “free land” to dog lovers so that the dogs can enjoy open space which is in very short supply in Redding otherwise, and that is because the dogs also pay taxes. But not to worry because Redding has a huge commercial tax base to offset all these luxuries which we can afford because Redding has so many tax revenue sources and that is why in Redding and all its town services are in perfect condition and mostly free. That is also why Redding can overspend on a huge police department and schools which are among the most expensive per student in the state … or in US for that matter. That is also why Redding’s property values are the highest when compared to surrounding communities which in turn creates a huge housing demand and long lines of buyers for Redding real estate which is never for sale because … nobody wants to leave this property tax haven. Yap … noting but good news here!

    • Normnutman

      Won’t argue the right or wrong about the land collection. That is a different issue all together. Land would not be “given”. The town still owns that land, just like other community use property. Essentially a free lease. Actually, owners are charged an annual fee for the privilege of owning the animal. so I guess you can say they are paying taxes….

      Once again, not arguing for or against. Your comments are separate from the use of existing community land. Your comment was about spending town money on dogs and the dog park. Your argument just posed is totally different than the topic. If it goes forward, based on what I have read, it will be on existing town open space type land, with all construction and maintenance costs paid for by private citizens. It would be on land already designated as open space / use (not sure of accurate terminology), so in the end, it is a net zero to the town in terms of dollars.

      If you want the town to sell of land and keep people from donating to the land trust, I suggest you contact the Selectman and express your concerns there. As for the taxes and mill rate, etc…, same argument. If you feel strongly enough that you want this land sold or rezoned for commercial use, go for it. But your argument about collecting stamps, etc.., has nothing to do with the original comment unless the town intends to purchase land for this purpose, which has about a 0.00% change of happening.

  • Alex Gray

    For over 20 years and through at least 7 Republican administrations, Redding has spent beyond is ability support it. The fact remains that Redding has no commercial tax revenues, it collects land like stamps, which pays taxes like stamp collectors and it builds churches, which also pay zero real estate taxes. The voters in Redding had been intentionally uniformed and manipulated by the past administrations resulting in huge property tax increases, exploded school budgets and a police department spending out of control. Consequently, Redding has no margin of error to respond to state or federal catastrophic funding changes. In addition it has a disproportionate rich and militant voting population due to intentional governing policies, which has blocked low and middle income working voters from moving in the community. This is how they succeeded in passing millions in spending almost all of it passed by using the “town meeting” which were generally held during the summer when most are on vacation. This is how they succeeded in passing millions for a stadium at JBHS and two additional cops for Redding’s schools unlike any other neighboring community including Newtown. Redding is always ready to live beyond its taxpayer’s ability to support behaving as if it had a huge commercial tax base while it has none. Redding is always ready to buy a Tesla, because it can force everyone to pay for it when it can only afford a Ford Pickup.

    • frustrated commuter

      What churches has Redding built? Please explain.

      • Alex Gray

        Dear ‘frustrated commuter’ not long ago, the Calvary Independent Baptist Church at the intersection of Limekiln Rd. and RT. 53 was completed. I hope your commute gets better but I know it will not for they will be working on our dilapidated infrastructure and railroads forever.

        • Jennifer Luce

          Alex — you are so on the money here. Please keep posting your ideas and hopefully enlightening readers.nI have two dogs and sometimes walk them at the community center…(they get walks everywhere including the dog park in Westport). And in my opinion, we don’t need a dog park in that field by the community garden. Many people don’t even pick up after their dogs now and dog walkers can certainly socialize in the several fields. The view across that field to the red barn is arrestingly beautiful. Why erase that for a dog park that most dog walkers won’t use. More to the point, so many of the dogs that I encounter aren’t social. Now you want to enter an enclosed area with an aggressive, unknown dog?? I don’t think so.nBut back to the most important point — please keep posting your thoughts. Too many people in Redding are asleep or drinking the Kool-Aid.

          • Alex Gray

            Thanks for the support and rest assured that anytime The Redding Pilot posts thinks which are offensive to common sense or just basic logic, I will respond.

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