A Word on Dog Parks

So, we’ve heard that the College Hill Canine Park Association has begun putting together proposals to turn Cookson Field into a dog park.

According to one of my favorite people, ““This is the first group that has really come forward to begin discussions about having a dog park.”

While that may be true, then-Councilor Rosen had requested a study of area dog parks six months ago, and Park Spirit was supposed to be looking into making Boynton Park at least partly an official dog park.

Now, I don’t necessarily have a problem with this plan, but the city was supposed to be looking into this months ago.  (See the minutes of the meeting I attended for the Chairman’s order.)  It shouldn’t have to take citizens asking for something that was already requested to spur action.

–An aside, now that I’ve been thinking about this for a few minutes: this is another example of how the city relies on citizens to come up with many good ideas, but does nothing to facilitate those ideas.  If we had a forum for this — online or otherwise — we could be having discussions along the lines of, “We’re thinking of having a dog park in College Hill” and someone else could mention Boynton Park, and work could be assigned in an official capacity.  And someone could say, “There’s an opening on the Parks Commission — maybe T Jablanksi should apply because she seems like she has a passion for parks.”

In Rules & Legislative Affairs, there was a discussion about how to encourage more people to serve on boards and commissions.  The real question is how to focus the talents and passions of people who are already willing and able to give freely of their time to the city.  There are people in this city who don’t like graffiti; why not organize them into a volunteer graffiti crew, as Bob Q recommended?  There are now at least two proposed dog park sites in the city; will anyone coordinate the findings/research of the Cookson Field folks with the myriad people who’d be interested in making Boynton Field a real dog park?

This is why people get frustrated in this city: the councilors get frustrated because no one shows up at council meetings and applies to serve on boards, and the citizens get frustrated because it doesn’t seem like anything gets accomplished and they don’t see a place for them to make any sort of impact.

12 thoughts on “A Word on Dog Parks

  1. Sean says:

    This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about proposed dog parks. I even signed a petition for one a few years back after I evicted a woman from our LL field because her dogs were digging holes in the outfield and ‘composting’.

  2. RQ says:

    If the city would take the lead in encouraging, facilitating, and coordinating, such volunteer groups, the people available to tackle the issues might increase ten fold. From a city personnel/resource perspective this would certainly qualify as “doing more with less”. Are you listening City of Worcester??

    • Nicole says:

      I was reading that article about dog parks and thinking of you!

      At the Rules & Legislative Affairs Committee, they were talking about having a councilor be an ambassador to encourage people to serve on boards and commissions. Previously, I believe Councilor Clancy has recommended that each Council committee decide on two or three priorities for the coming year, though I think that went nowhere.

      To put those two ideas together, why not have citizens submit ideas/problem areas for review, that could get reasonably accomplished within a few years’ time, select eleven of them, and assign one to each city councilor? The city councilor and a citizen or two could serve as the stewards for the project, and we as voters might actually get something with which we could evaluate a councilor’s performance…

  3. Ken says:

    I really liked your aside. It’s a reflection of government in general. It all comes down to personal citizen involvement. I’m debating whether or not to join a committee myself. But it is coming down to how much of my free time can I commit. How much would I want to commit?

    I hear the bashing of government daily, complaints that the system is broken. But honestly, I think people forget that it’s “We the People” who ultimately run the show. We just need to show up.

    Oh, and I’m all for dog parks… for responsible owners who will make sure to clean up after their pets. Which could be an entirely different discussion.

    • Nicole says:

      Regarding joining boards and commissions: I’ve been serving on a commission for the past few months, and we have one (1-2 hour) meeting every month. It’s an advisory commission, so there’s less work/responsibility involved than an executive commission. I joined because I wanted to give back in some official way, but I didn’t necessarily have a lot of time to give. The City HR Department might be able to give you information on the time commitment if you’re interested in a particular commission. (Trust me, they’re dying for people, so they’re pretty responsive.)

      Regarding “showing up”: as I said, it’s a two-way street, and I don’t think the city government has been good at engaging people or showing them simple ways to make the city a better place. (And, as I said, I think that the councilors and city administration tend to hear a lot of complaints but don’t necessarily see the citizenry out in full force during most public meetings.)

      My (rather limited) experience with Earth Day Cleanups has taught me that the city government is often aware of problems, but can’t always get to them (because of budget, resources, etc.) So I’m sure that Cookson Field is on their radar, and they can’t get to it for a variety of reasons.

      In a perfect world, we’d have a list of tasks that citizens could volunteer for, or a list of priorities. And the government could spell things out: Cookson Field can be done, but only if we can get 20 volunteers to work for x days on the following tasks. There are plenty of people who want to do something, but (a) don’t want to deal with the hassle of coordinating an event, and/or (b) only have a limited amount of time, and want to put it to best use.

      I’d love to start harping on again about social media and the city, but it all boils down to the same thing: there are citizens out there who want to be involved, but don’t know how, and there are people in the government who want citizens more involved, but…

      You get the picture.

      • t-traveler says:

        would like to turn your idea on its head, have the “virtual community” pick two or three priorities, and push one intensively, then go back to its list when one is completed

      • RQ says:

        yah, but the city govt has to be an integral partner.

        In most cases we’re talking about public property and you can’t just come up with a great idea and recruit the volunteers and go implement the idea. You need to get buy in and approval from the govt.

  4. t-traveler says:

    as it exists today without city buyin or imprimatur

  5. gayle says:

    I would like to bring this ,Nicole’s summary of conditions and summary of the way that Worcester gets things done, and how it has progressed in almost 4 yrs-
    I see that nothing gets done except what is done with funding for special groups and when the funding runs out there are suppose to be programs in place which help a city grow. Parks Dept only cares about sports leagues and note dog parks are listed as highly needed on questions to public but barely mentioned in Open Space final review as an example. Also note the recent newspaper articles on graffiti but I couldn’t get Public works or any counciler to get gang graffiti off 5 trees in my area because I guess my area isn’t worth as much as some other areas .These are just the basis of how I have learned how this city is run in the last couple of years .
    Yes, I see how this city likes to divide every concerned group into small sections and then the powers in place just do the same old thing until people get frustrated and move.

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