DOG PARK AT EBS
I've followed with great interest the letters to the editor regarding the proposed dog park in Bethel. As a town resident and having lived with/and around dogs my whole life (62), I realize the establishment of a dog park requires meticulous planning and oversight.
Along with many interested townspeople, I attended the Dec. 12 Bethel Planning Board meeting, the folks who will decide if the proposed “site” is an acceptable location for a dog park. Several real conflicts and potential problems regarding the proposed site were raised at the meeting and in “Dog Park Questions” 11/21/12, and “More Dog Park Concerns” 12/6/12.
Steve Wight of Newry, co-chair of the “Bethel Dog Park Committee” wrote in his 11/29/12 letter to the editor: “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 Parkway property with the approval of the town manager and selectmen.”
I'm wondering, since this current proposed site includes wetlands, isn't it illegal to use “fill” in wetland areas? I'm also wondering what other sites Steve Wight's committee investigated – was the Ethel Bisbee property or Mahoosuc Land Trust explored, and if so and rejected, why?
Why focus on a site which was established for another purpose, snowmobilers, and which would require serious gerrymanderings to accommodate a dog park?
Having personally explored the current proposed site and the Ethel Bisbee property, I can attest that Ethel Bisbee, on first flush, seems far more business and tourist friendly and without any of the conflicts of the current proposed site down from Pat's Pizza. Hotels/motels could advertise a “dog park within walking distance” (yet there is a multitude of parking places for out-of-towners); visitors to the dog park would actually have to travel into the center of town, past many of Bethel's shops and eateries on their way to the park, as proposed to the current proposed site, which being on the outskirts of town would not benefit Bethel businesses, and could negatively impact the business already generated by the snowmobilers.
Ultimately, the townspeople of Bethel will decide if we need a dog park and if all the liability, maintenance, etc., questions can be resolved, but I believe that the appropriateness of the site is key to the success of such an undertaking.
I urge all to attend the upcoming Planing Board meeting on Jan. 9 and the Selectmen's meeting on Jan. 14, both at 7 p.m.
And I would urge the Selectboard to proceed cautiously and solicit the input and approval of the whole community in exploring the viability of a dog park in Bethel.