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.
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.
Boston Parks and Recreation