Hoops court could bounce Bethel Dog Park
The Bethel Dog Park may have competition for its proposed location – a basketball court.
On Monday Bethel selectmen will consider Todd Wheeler’s request for a town meeting warrant article to build a paved basketball court on the Pathway site.
Wheeler is currently circulating a petition to get the question on the warrant, Town Manager Jim Doar said when asked about the issue last week. The board will take up the question regardless of whether it comes to them as a request or a petition, he said.
A referendum vote on the dog park is tentatively planned for June 11. If selectmen approve placing the basketball court article on the town meeting warrant, that vote would take place the next day.
The article would be worded to ask if the court should be approved if the dog park were to be turned down, Doar said.
The park has been a source of controversy since it was proposed last summer. Although the Planning Board approved a permit for the project, to be located behind the Shell Station on Route 2, opposition by some residents prompted selectmen to put it up for a vote.
Now, said Wheeler in a letter to Doar, “It is my belief, as well as those of several other parents in the community, that the proposed land is better suited to a basketball court than to a dog park based on its proximity to parking, the walking path, the skate park and general visibility for purposes of monitoring.”
He said Bethel lacks recreational facilities and a basketball court “can easily be created through private donations and will be well-used by the youth of this town and its surrounding communities for years to come.”
Wheeler said the 140-by-100 foot court would have six hoops on poles that could be removed in the winter. And unlike the dog park, there would be no fencing around it.
“The purpose of these two unique features is to avoid the possibility of affecting or re-routing the existing snowmobile trail in that same area,” he wrote.
The dog park plan calls for a reroute of a nearby snowmobile trail. Snowmobile club members have been among opponents of the dog park.
Wheeler also noted that “the location being proposed will fit within the area surveyed by Points North on Feb. 12 and has already been reviewed by the Planning Board, albeit for the purpose of a dog park.”
He said the court would be smaller than the park, would not affect any wetlands, would be less expensive and would not require permanent vertical construction.
A slight grade would be needed to allow for water run-off, Wheeler said.
Dog park opponents have also expressed concern about who would supervise the dog park. Wheeler, who is a member of the Bethel Recreation Board, said management of the court “fits nicely under the supervision of the Recreation Board.”
Doar said the board itself is not taking a formal position on the issue.
Wheeler concluded his letter by saying, “Undoubtedly this proposal will likely be viewed by some as opposition to the dog park; however, that view would be limited in perspective. The proposal for a basketball court is based on what is the optimal use of this particular parcel, as well as community priorities. I am not advocating against a dog park so much as I am championing the cause of our youth, which in this case comes in the form of a basketball court.”
The concept of a basketball court on the site first came to selectmen’s attention at their regular meeting last month, when Jarrod Crockett told them he had been contacted by parents interested in the idea because of limited recreational facilities in Bethel.