Off-Leash Dog park discussion moving forward

The City has provided this update, pasted below, on the dog park discussion.  In the past, these working group meetings have been working meetings, not public meetings, so people not on the working group should not expect to take part in them, but you can send your thoughts to the City Coordinator, ask for additional information or be added to a mailing/contact list for the process by contacting Taha Jennings at 617/349-4603 or by email at

I am not sure there are many things more difficult than designing, funding and siting off-leash options in a City like Cambridge. We have some formal off-leash options, though clearly we don’t have enough to serve our City’s need.  When I visited NYC this past April, I met with park department staff and they explained to me how much effort they put into developing dog parks- it was astounding.  But they realized that dog owners, like other City residents, used City facilities and expected to have their needs met to some extent.  The dog parks tend to have some sort of hard cover like gravel of some sort as grass just doesn’t work for them, have double gated entries, have trees fenced off and so forth (see attached picture). The NYC model(s) may not, of course, be the ones for Cambridge, but they’re worth considering if only for the importance NYC puts on trying to serve all of the varied users in their parks, to include people with dogs.  There was a nod to the fact that people have dogs and will take them to local parks regardless and a recognition that dog owners create vibrant sub-communities and often provide extra sets of eyes on public spaces that make them, long term, more comfortable and safer for all users.  Conversely, there was also the recognition that not everyone likes dogs and, in fact, some people won’t go to places where there are dogs.  Also, dogs often bark, not all owners pick up after their pets and any park is going to have some maximum carrying capacity for dogs.  Cambridge is going to have to sort through all of these issues as well and I hope this working group can help us get closer to a perfect solution than we’ve managed so far.

You can learn more about NYC’s dog parks here:

1.  The dog park working group, makeup and discussion:

Below are the names of the residents selected to be on the Off Leash Working Group:

Carole Copeland

Sophia Emperador

Andrew Farrar

Kathryn Hencir

Susan Ruff

Raffael Cavallaro

Heidi Mitchell

This information along with other information on the Off Leash Working Group can be found on Community Development Department website at:  It is anticipated that the first meeting will be held in late September and that the process will take 6 months to a year.

Discussions will likely focus on: issues and opportunities regarding the current off leash policy and shared use program, potential physical improvements, enforcement and educational strategies, geographic considerations, and other issues that may come up during the process.

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