Upgrade Howe Dog Park in Watertown, MA

Upgrade Howe Dog Park in Watertown, MA

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Rebeca Kerr started this petition to City of Watertown and

To our Watertown neighbors and dog owners, we would like to ask that you read, support, and sign the following petition to request upgrades to Howe off-leash Dog Park. Please share it with your family, friends, and neighbors, and help us build a better space so we can all enjoy Howe Park.

Why should we support our local dog park?

Dog parks like the Howe off-leash Dog Park in Watertown West are very popular for lots of reasons.

One big reason is that while our dogs play and socialize, we get the chance to trade the deadlines and stress of daily life for a few valuable moments to stretch our legs and take in some fresh air. We laugh, chat, and get to know each other while the little ones run around. It builds a strong sense of community that can be difficult to get going in other settings.

Another reason is that many dog owners live in condos, apartments and shared homes in the immediate vicinity and do not have property with a private yard and therefore have no opportunity for their dogs to freely play and exercise in a safe, secured off-leash setting. Community run spaces like dog parks are often the only locally available and viable alternative.

The neighborhood around Howe Park has seen a lot of residential development in the last few years and a proportionate increase in the number of people with dogs. In addition to more people in the area, pandemic restrictions have caused a big shift towards working from home. We are now welcoming a whole new population of mostly puppies or young dogs that we jokingly refer to as “Pandemic Puppies.” It is fun but it is getting crowded!

With this petition we would like to propose the following upgrades to Howe Dog Park:

1. Increase the off leash fenced area to include a large section of adjacent grassy playfield.

The fenced area for the off-leash dog park gets too crowded during peak hours, and at times, can be hazardous for dogs and owners. While the dog park continues to get busier, the adjacent grass field is almost always empty. There is an opportunity to use some of this under-utilized land to provide the community with a better recreational experience.

By enlarging the enclosed area to include a large chunk of the grassy playfield, the Watertown Recreation Department would provide people that go to the park with the safe facilities that we need.

2. Park surface upgrades and regular maintenance

Before the 2018 upgrade, the Park and Recreation Department mainly used plain soil for the Howe Dog Park. This soil got very dry in the summer and very wet and muddy in the spring/winter. To solve this issue, the Recreation Department chose to install pea gravel, which is highly recommended across the nation. Pea gravel seemed to be the right choice for several reasons: it is safe, cheap, and easy to install.

However, dogs do not generally do well with this surface and there are many recorded reports that show that pea gravel is irritating and can injure dogs’ paws. During winter, it is not unusual to see blood trails on the frozen surface. As ice forms around the pebbles, the gravel stones freeze in place, effectively creating a “bed of nails,” which cut into the dogs’ paws. This is unsanitary and unhealthy for our pets.

Additionally, pea gravel installation is discouraged by some landscapers because it requires regular maintenance. Some suggest that the surface be refreshed or replaced annually and that more gravel should be added every one or two years. There has not been any known maintenance done to this surface since its installation in 2018.

As the solution to both these points, we propose that the off-leash fenced area be expanded to include a similar sized area in the grassy playfield. We would also ask that the Watertown Park and Recreation Department allocate additional funds to support the regular upkeep of these surfaces. Dogs, pet owners, and children, will benefit greatly from these changes.

Please sign our petition and share with your neighbors, so we can help support a healthier recreational environment in Howe Park for everyone in the community.

Thank you for your support!

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At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!