Beecher Street Park Will No Longer Be An Off-Leash Dog Area

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department has announced that Beecher Street Park will no longer be an off-leash area. Dogs are still allowed in the park, but now need to be leashed.

A photo of District City Councilor Matt O'Malley having "impromptu office hours" at Beecher Street Park when it was an off-leash dog area.

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A photo of District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley having “impromptu office hours” at Beecher Street Park when it was an off-leash dog area.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Chris Cook wrote a letter (posted below) to the Beecher Street Park Community expressing that two main opinions have been asserted in the last year about the park: “the need for open space for dogs in densely populated Jamaica Plain, and the difficulty of living near a dog park in such close quarters.”

Ultimately, the dogs’ need for open space lost out, as Cook wrote, “…we have made the decision to discontinue the use of Beecher Street Park as an off-leash dog area.”

Cook said the department has tried to find alternative spaces for dogs in JP, but so far have been unsuccessful. He added they will continue to advocate for spaces for dogs in the neighborhood.

Physical changes to the park will begin next week. The existing fencing will be removed for safety purposes, and there will be no gate. This fall, turf restoration will occur.

See Cook’s full letter below:

Dear Beecher Street Park Community,

Over the past year, Boston Parks and Recreation Department’s attention has been drawn to the situation at the Beecher Street Park in Jamaica Plain. We have received inquiries and comments from many residents of the neighborhood regarding the use of the park as an unofficial dog recreation space. These letters have expressed two contrasting visions for the park: the need for open space for dogs in densely populated Jamaica Plain, and the difficulty of living near a dog park in such close quarters. As dog owners/lovers and city residents, we can easily identify with both points of view.  However, we have made the decision to discontinue the use of Beecher Street Park as an off-leash dog area.

The opinions expressed in the community meeting in January 2016 reinforced the divide between dog park proponents and opponents. We have continued to receive emails and telephone calls about this subject with a significant number of comments on both sides of the issue. We have been striving to find a solution that would satisfy both sides, but have been unable to do so. The prospect of seriously disappointing community members has been an outcome which we strenuously sought to avoid. However, we find ourselves at a point where we must make the best decision for the park and the residents. We have worked with partner agencies to find alternative spaces in Jamaica Plain but so far have been unsuccessful. We will continue to advocate for spaces for dogs in Jamaica Plain.

The small size of the site and the proximity to residences and community gardens are not compatible with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department standards for a successful dog recreation area. As we move forward, the Beecher Street Park will still be open as a passive park but all dogs must be on a leash as per City of Boston ordinance. We will replace the existing fencing for safety purposes but there will be no gate. In the fall planting season, turf restoration will take place to beautify this neighborhood park. Work on the site will begin next week.

We will also continue to look toward creating dog recreation areas in larger parks that will help us enhance the quality of life for all Boston residents.

Sincerely,

 

Chris Cook

 

Commissioner

Boston Parks and Recreation

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  • Eric Herot

    “The small size of the site and the proximity to residences and community
    gardens are not compatible with the Boston Parks and Recreation
    Department standards for a successful dog recreation area.”

    This agency’s “standards” are one of the main reasons that the entire city of Boston has but two “officially sanctioned” dog parks. Either they need to relax those standards, or they need to work harder to find ways to use their existing properties for this purpose.

    It’s naïve to assume that closing the park will mean the end of off-leash dogs in the area. People will just move to even more unsuitable locations with no fences. The city’s practice of dealing with this without really dealing with it should not be tolerated.

    • mplo

      Although I am neither a Jamaica Plain resident or a dog owner, I see the need for the discontinuation of the use of the Beecher Street Park as an off-leash dog park, because when dogs are off-leash, things are more likely to get out of control, especially when there are a lot of other dogs around. The Beecher Street Community Dog park should be kept open, but dogs should be kept on their leashes.

      • Matt

        The dog park provides a place to socialize dogs and socialize with your neighbors. A leash does not limit bad dog behavior, my dog was bitten by another dog in JP while both were on leashes. While dogs will occasionally scuffle at a park it is hardly out of control.

        If the city were just willing to make a modest investment in the park they could mitigate many of the opponents complaints while maintaining a valuable community resource.

      • Eric Herot

        Seconding Matt’s comments. Many of the problems that have occurred at Beecher street were an indirect result of the city’s “hands off” management policy towards the park. E.g. No recourse to prevent bully dogs from entering the park and spoiling it from everyone else, and no place for smaller dogs to go to feel safe from bigger ones.

        All of the complaints listed in Cook’s letter were basically NIMBY complaints: Issues that are ultimately very minor but are also inherent to dog parks and are going to affect anyone who lives near the park no matter where it is placed. It’s a shame that these few people were allowed to take something away from so many.

        • malena

          sorry Eric but it’s not NiMBY- many of us have owned our homes for over 20 years when we could afford to buy here and we accepted it even though sometimes it was sometimes a problem except when Joseph, forgot his last name, was an a butter and took it upon himself to organize people, have clean ups, spread wood chips to mitigate the odor and generally be a good neighbor. Since he moved away, it’s been a disaster. Here’s a list of the complaints heard at the meeting: a butters who can’t open their windows in the summer due to the noise and smell; a little girl who can’t go into her backyard because the dogs are so aggressive and she’s scared; an elderly lady who can’t nap during the day because of the noise; neighbors who can’t find parking because of the people who drive and park there, especially the dog walkers; community gardeners who find their lovingly cared for organic produce covered with a dust of pee and poop spores; a doggie daycare business woman who has forbidden her walkers from going into the park because of the aggressive dogs and the general unsanitary conditions, and so on. Jamaica Plain has become very dense and the amount of people with dogs has grown enormously. We also saw an uptick of users after the MSPCA closed their off-leash park. I am sympathetic to the dog owners but I can tell you that it’s hell to live or garden next to a space like that. Personally, I don’t think this official letter is going to prevent people from taking the leash off their dogs – I predict that things will continue as they are pretty much until the space is completely closed. How about if the city were to build housing on that lot? Also, we are literally 2 blocks from the Southwest Corridor – every time I pass by there I see dogs off leash. Why can’t a park be built there?

          • notrump

            1). There is no such thing as “poop and pee spores.”
            2). Public street parking is just that; anyone can park there. It is not reserved for crybabies who don’t have a driveway. Illegally parked vehicles are generally ticketed and towed, particularly where whiners like ____ are nosing around.
            3). Please tell me where I can find “an a butter.” I’ve never seen one; it sounds fascinating, though

          • malena

            1)research it
            2)wow – maybe you should call yourself yestrump
            3)agree, but self-correct doesn’t understand abutter. Kind of cute, no?
            I’m glad to see that Matt O’Malley is looking for a place for dogs in the southwest corridor.

      • Matt Anderson

        If anything having dogs on leashes while inside Beecher Street Park will lead to more issues. A lot of dogs feel restricted while on leash, are anxious, and are not able to fully socialize with other dogs. I no longer go to Beecher Street Park for unrelated reasons but it really was a special community. I hope the city can bring a dog park to JP. Traveling to Southie or the South End is not really a viable option.

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  • Paul

    There are many people who use the park as a bathroom walk for their dogs.

    Expect to see more dog poop on the ground when the park closes. This is no excuse for people not curbing their dog but is likely another result of the parks closing.

    Included is a picture of one dog who will miss the park.

  • Scott

    Try your back yard.

  • Clay

    It’s a shame, so many rely on the park , I really don’t know what I’m going to do now. I just rented a apt next to the park for the sole reason of using it with my dogs. So many of the problems could be easily soved as well- just regulate the park like the garden, charge everyone who uses it a little bit , we could buy smell proof trash cans , and mulch for the dust. And no as a biologist there is no such thing as pee and poop spores, the poor gardeners who pay 20 dollars a year, who are in a COMMUNITY in a garden, are not going to die.

  • Malena

    The City of Boston does not manage the community gardens. They are now managed by The Trustees, before by BostonNaturalAreasNetwork, and before that by the community of gardeners who established them a long time ago partly as a way to deal positively with empty lots of land. The current “dog park” was first established as a children’s park by neighbors. Until recently you could see evidence of that by the colorfully painted poles, part of beautiful “totem” poles that parents, with their own money and effort, painted for the neighborhood’s children. When most of the children who used the park grew up, there was a transition period and then it started to be used by dog owners. Around fifteen years ago, a responsible, community minded, group of dog owners petitioned the City to make it a dog park. I believe the City didn’t really sanctioned it but allowed it to exist. That group of dog owners, headed by Joseph (some might remember him, he would wear a button on his chest that said “Hi, I’m Joseph’) who lived next to the park, collected dues, built the current dog friendly fence, bought the tools you still see there, put down wood chips, etc. There was even a liaison between the community gardens and the dog park users. Sadly, that went by the wayside mainly because Joseph moved away and the dog park users were unable to maintain the group. it is important for both sides of this issue to understand that the City does nothing to help these kinds of open spaces to exist. Rather, it’s interested people who put in the effort, time and money to maintain them. Community gardeners don’t just pay $20 (BTW, it depends on the size of the plot) but we have to do 6 hours of volunteer work, we are responsible for making sure the sidewalks are shoveled when it snows and in general, are stewards for these patches of green and beauty in the congested cities. Throughout the years, there are gardeners who also have dogs and used the space. However, many have grown disgusted by the current situation and don’t use it anymore. We know that not all dog park users are irresponsible and inconsiderate – they are easy to spot. They don’t yell at their dogs constantly, they manage their dogs, they pick up their dog’s feces promptly so that the smell doesn’t linger, they often come up to the fence and talk to us gardeners or say hello. These are the people who have tried to organize themselves and who have approached us to talk about the situation in a calm, civilized manner. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and are much appreciated. However, we also know that there is a Facebook page where the gardeners are regularly trashed and there was an incident earlier in the summer when the wife of a gardener was threatened by a dog park user and the police had to be called. Most of us understand that the situation is out of control mainly because there are too many users of this small plot of land and that it’s in the wrong place. We support the set up of a dog park in a less congested area but we can assure you that it will not take place if dog owners are not willing to put in the time and yes,money, to make it happen. Perhaps you should consider how community gardens are organized – we have By-laws, contracts, a Steering Committee that includes a treasurer, and membership meetings and events that are open to the community at large. I hope that you get your off-leash dog park and that it is managed well, but I caution you that the City is not going to do it for you.

  • Eva Kaniasty

    If you are in favor of JP Dog parks, please sign this petition: http://bit.ly/jpdogparks

  • Pingback: Online Petition for a Jamaica Plain Off-Leash Dog Park Gathering Support | Jamaica Plain News()

  • Christopher Ott

    this park was beyond wonderful for the dogs..and a great place to unwind and watch these crazy creatures play…i guess cars and money have more sway here

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