Now there's snow on the ground, fewer than three weeks remain in 2017, and despite the fact that the money and the plans are in place to build a dog park of adequate size, with separate areas for large and small dogs, the dog park has once again been put off.
For several days, Gossips has wrestled with how to explain why there will be no dog park until spring--if even then--but what happened at the informal Common Council meeting last night makes telling the story easy. I just have to report what happened.
There was very little on the agenda for the last informal Council meeting of the year. After the meeting had gone on for all of five minutes and all the agenda items had been covered, Council president Claudia DeStefano asked if the audience had any issues to bring before the Council. Linda Mussmann, supervisor elect for the Fourth Ward, the ward that now contains Charles Williams Park, rose to read a letter, dated December 1 and signed by nine residents representing the five households living beside Charles Williams Park. The text of that letter follows:
To Whom It May Concern:
It has been brought to our attention that a proposal has been made to build a dog park on Mill Street. We, the families on Mill Street are very concerned and want an opportunity to discuss this before the final decision is made.
In the past five years Mill Street has diversified into a multi-cultural family-friendly neighborhood where 13 kids, under the age of 16, are currently living. Our kids spend lots of time outdoors playing in the front yards right near the street. The safety of our children is our number one concern. With a dog park located right behind our homes, we are worried about the possibility of dogs on the loose, strangers coming and going in the neighborhood, the lack of parking spaces, the level of noise, the increased traffic on our quiet street, and the sanitary issues that come with a dog park.
Mill Street is a dead-end street with no sidewalk and no on-street parking. Since we were not asked about this project, there is a feeling that Mill Street has become the new dumping ground for new projects for the City of Hudson. We are concerned that the sense of safety we feel is going to be taken away from us. We are especially worried that our children will not be safe.
We are all hard-working families on Mill Street and some are dog owners; and we are not against Hudson getting a dog park but believe that there should be a discussion with the people who live there. We feel it would be a good idea to have some kind of study to find a better location that could be more accessible and less disruptive for the neighborhood. Thank you for your consideration and support in this matter.After Mussmann read the letter, Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward) weighed in, declaring, "These people do not want a dog park," and calling the plan for siting a dog park in Charles Williams Park "not appropriate." Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) then took her turn, saying that she agreed "with what the people have to say on Mill Street." She went on to say, of herself and Miah, "as Second Ward representatives, we fought hard to keep the dog park out of Charles Williams Park. Now," she continued, "people think they have been taken advantage of because it's a different ward." (The new ward boundaries to achieve wards of equal population put Mill Street, which had been part of the Second Ward, in the Fourth Ward.)
At some point, after Mussmann had already read their letter, residents of Mill Street arrived at City Hall. One of the residents addressed the Council, saying he had four dogs and knew from experience that it was "not easy to keep dogs under control or to keep them from jumping on children." He asserted that the dog park would "intrude on family space."
Regarding the call by Mill Street residents for "some kind of study" to find a location for the dog park, the search for a site for the dog park has been going on since 2011, and it was finally determined by the mayor's office in late October that Charles Williams Park--the City's newest and most underutilized public space, the original plans for which included a dog park, among many other unrealized amenities--was the only possible location. Regarding the request for a "discussion with the people who live there," advocates for a dog park in Hudson would welcome an opportunity to dispel the misconceptions about dog parks and explain the rules and protocols that govern the use of dog parks and the etiquette of dog parks that is understood and observed by the people and dogs who visit them.
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