DOG PARK UPDATE
The letter in the Nov. 21 Citizen alerted me to the fact that, while the Bethel Dog Park Committee has met with the leaders of the Snow Twisters and Greenstock Snowmobile Clubs and solicited design suggestions from them, there are many club members and other residents and visitors who wonder what plans are in the works. Thank you for this opportunity to explain just what the proposed dog park is all about.
After discussions at two annual forums held by the Bethel Area Nonprofits Collaborative at which the idea of a dog park came up, and at the prodding of local dog owners, a group came together early last spring to discuss the possibility of creating such a park in Bethel. A committee of interested citizens approached the Bethel Selectboard and received permission to do a feasibility study of locations on town property where such a park might be located. The committee settled on an acre of land on the Bethel Pathway property with the approval of the town manager and selectmen. The understanding was that any proposal would follow the model of Davis Park and the Skate Park in that permissions would need to be given by the Bethel Planning Board and Central Maine Power, which owns an easement on the proposed site, and that it would need to be constructed with no cost to Bethel taxpayers.
To date, the committee has received permission from CMP to place 5 foot fencing across its right of way with the understanding that 12 foot wide gates must be provided to allow company vehicles to access the lines and poles in the area. The committee has met with the snowmobile club leaders who have expressed the need for an alteration to the trail leading across the CMP land to assure that trail users can access the businesses on Route 2 in that area as well as the trails leading south and west. They also impressed upon the committee that any alteration must provide room to easily turn the clubs’ grooming vehicle, which is 40 feet long with its attachments, around the fenced park. They were given assurances that this accommodation would be made and that the altered trail would be filled and graded to insure that it would be safe and dry. As the committee has progressed in its work it has provided survey and design plans to club representatives.
The committee is now preparing an application to the Bethel Planning Board to allow the proposed park as an a mendment to the Bethel Pathway Plan. The date and time of the planning board meeting will be announced by the town planner and the public will be invited to attend.
When the plan is finally accepted the selectmen will form a town committee to oversee construction and operation of the park. That committee will be responsible for the enforcement of the rules required by the planning board calling upon all dog owners to properly dispose of waste in containers provided, to insure that all dogs brought to the park are properly licensed and vaccinated, and to insure that any dog displaying aggressiveness is immediately leashed and removed from the park.
Many for whom the idea of dog parks is a new concept have asked why, with all the private forestland in the Bethel area, a park is needed at all. Of course, any private land used for recreation is available strictly through the generosity of the landowner. More than that, however, is the opportunity for socialization of dogs and dog owners that is possible in a safe facility where dogs are able to be free to play together and their owners have the opportunity to gather with others who enjoy celebrating that freedom as much as they do. The committee welcomes the opportunity to discuss any concerns that anyone has as we continue to work to make the Bethel Dog Park a reality.
For the Dog Park Committee