Should The First Church’s Burying Ground Be Used As A Dog Park? It Is Now

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Neighbors of the historical First Church on Eliot Street use the burying ground as a dog park, which they're allowed to do by the church. But some neighbors aren't happy about the cemetery being used as a dog park.

So there will be a public meeting to discuss the matter on July 29th.

First Church in Jamaica Plain Burying Ground on Eliot Street

Currently dogs are allowed in the burying ground. There is a posted sign stating that visitors must be respectful of the cemetery, and be careful around the fragile gravestones. The sign also states that people should remove all dog waste from the cemetery.

Dennis O'Brien, Co-chair of First Church's Governing Board, told Jamaica Plain News that the church is in the process to understand the differing sentiments of all of its interested neighbors around the presence of dogs in the burying ground.

In July, Rosemary Jones, Chair of Jamaica Pond Association (JPA), sent a letter on behalf of the organization to the Church's Standing Committee.

In the letter, Jones said the JPA values the First Church and its contributions to the civic life in our community. However, Jones said that in the JPA's July 12th meeting, an abutter representing herself and others, brought up several negative impacts that the church's dog park is having on neighbors.

"While we are sure that you are giving thought to the health and safety risks inherent in maintaining an unsupervised space where dogs run free, we think it important that you also hear the concerns of neighbors affected by the dog park, concerns that resonated with a number of JPA Board Members," wrote Jones.

The JPA requested that First Church representatives meet with the concerned neighbors to discuss the use of the burying ground as a dog park.

Kay Matthew, a member of the First Church's congregation and a member of JPA's Board of Directors, agreed to facilitate a meeting. 

The Governing Board of First Church in Jamaica Plain Unitarian
Universalist has invited the community to a listening session on Thursday, July
29th at 7 pm. The purpose of the meeting is to solicit community
feedback on community use of the burying ground.

The meeting will be on Zoom, and will be recorded for internal use only. Click here for the Zoom link.

If you have questions about the meeting or have feedback on this issue, but will not be able to make the meeting, please email