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Conversation about design of Bridgewater’s future off-leash dog park begins

by Keith Corcoran

Dog owner David Mitchell, far right, talks about the plan for Bridgewater’s future leash-free dog park during a meeting last week. Bridgewater recreation director Carol Pickings-Anthony and planning director Eric Shaw, second from right, participate in the session with Edward Kinney, left, of Ekistics Planning and Design. Ekistics is tasked with designing the Glen Allan Drive site.

BRIDGEWATER — A consulting firm, town officials and dog enthusiasts are part of the broader conversation as to what Bridgewater’s future leash-free dog park will look like.

A couple of informal meetings were held last week discussing the pooch park, which will be established in a one-hectare section of the seven-hectare-sized Generations Active Park (GAP), off Glen Allan Drive, in the area just north of the fieldhouse.

The leash-free area is just the first step of the larger development of the GAP.

“I think the key is providing a good, efficient space that makes sense,” said Eric Shaw, Bridgewater’s planning director.

The talk during the meetings touched on topics such as the GAP’s trail system, utility connection access to the leash-free area to establish a watering station for pets, signage, rules and regulations, shelter, trash cans, fencing, gate enclosures and hours of operation.

Ekistics Planning and Design, headquartered out of Dartmouth, indicated the size of the dog park area shouldn’t be an issue for what it may include.

“We can accommodate agility. We can accommodate small dogs. We can accommodate a natural area and we can accommodate a grassed area and still feel like it’s not crowded,” noted Ekistics’ planning director Jill Robertson.

Bridgewater awarded the $13,765 site design deal to Ekistics, the same firm commissioned by the town to create the GAP’s master plan. The dog park was a highly ranked element within that design.

Bridgewater changed land-use and planning rules needed to allow for the existence of a dog park. Previous rules didn’t allow for leash-free areas.

Roughly $50,000 is set aside in the current budget for the initial grubbing and detailed design of the leash-free site.

Another $120,000 is earmarked in the 2013-14 preliminary draft of the capital budget toward the project, but town council has to agree to keep it in as part of the final budget before the spending is confirmed.

“The cost of this is not going to go down,” commented David Mitchell, who owns a two-year-old Bernese mountain dog-standard poodle. He said there may be a company interested in cutting the necessary trees, which could translate to a reduction in the cost of the project.

Ekistics anticipates additional discussions with dog enthusiasts and plans to create some draft drawings for consideration.

The final detailed design is expected to be ready by March 31.

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