Selectboard Correspondence: Proposal regarding revising ordinance limiting dogs on Huntley Fields
Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2014 12:25 PM
To: Nancy Kramer; Nancy Kramer
Subject: Proposal regarding revising ordinance limiting dogs on Huntley Fields
I have been a Norwich resident for 21 years, and my property is on the other side of the brook from Huntley Meadow and the playing fields. Several years ago, portions of the natural meadow were mowed and transformed into additional playing fields. At the time, this natural area was used by lots of folks with and without dogs, who enjoyed walking the perimeter, and by children who enjoyed playing in an open field of tall grasses and wildflowers. One day, without notice, and at the behest of the recreation council, trees were marked and cut. Eventually, and under protest voiced during a town meeting called by the then town manager, more than half of this natural area was taken away, in spite of the fact that additional playing fields were being created off Route 5. Those people who supported the change wanted increased availability of fields for team practices and games, for Norwich residents and for rent to teams from other towns. Since then, there has been more occasion for dogs and walkers to share a tighter space with children and adults engaged in games and practices. Nonetheless, the area has supported many users who for the most part, have managed to use the space in a responsible and respectful way. One unfortunate incident should not be the basis to radically alter the rules governing the use of this space.
Many of us who walk on and around the Huntley fields are not there to observe or participate in sports, we are there to enjoy the open space that we support as taxpayers of the town. I do not own a dog, but when I did this was an invaluable area for daily outings and for socialization with other walkers. The fact that this area is accessible by walking from the center of town makes it ideal for walkers, many of whom do bring their dogs along for exercise. I see parents of children participating in sports with their dogs on the sidelines. Banning dogs from the fields during these events seems to be an extreme proposal. I would favor a plan which would require that dogs be leashed and kept on the perimeter of the fields during games.
Perhaps interested Norwich residents could be invited to form a committee to discuss and make recommendations about this. Huntley is a special and valuable area for many of us, and we are rightly emboldened to take some ownership in how it is used and regulated.