Parks Department Hears Plans for Off-Leash Areas on Boston Common

They will vote on the proposal at their Feb. 25 meeting.

The Friends of the Public Garden presented their plan Tuesday to the city's parks department for creating areas on the Boston Common that dogs can use. 

The plan proposes rotating off-leash dog recreation areas on the Common, having two open at any one time, with the others taken out of use for renovation of the turf (aeration, overseeding, fertilizing). 

Liz Vizza, the Friends' executive director, said the board "favorably disposed to the plan overall" and will vote on it at their Feb. 25 meeting. 

"The goals are to develop a management approach that protects the Common’s turf and trees while providing meaningful dog recreation opportunities, and to build the community of dog owners into active stewards and supporters of the Common," Vizza said.

"Areas have been identified that serve neighborhoods on the east and west sides of the park, and we worked with Parks Department staff to identify sites that were appropriate candidates for the program," she said. 

Ian January 30, 2013 at 01:39 PM
May be dog owners should prove they can keep Beacon Hill clean first before worrying about what they want to do on the Common. You can't walk 5 yards on Beacon Hill without seeing some irresponsible dog owners mess bagged, or not laying on the sidewalk.
Jay January 30, 2013 at 02:33 PM
I agree Ian, these dog owners have no consideration for our health and safety. Now they want to unleash dogs which could possibly cause more problems such as bites. It wont take long until the Commons become a total pig pen. The stench will be unbearable. Liz Vizza is no friend to the community.
P January 30, 2013 at 04:24 PM
I think the nasty comments are kind of funny, because this proposal is only legalizing something that has been happening pretty much forever. If anything, this proposal will improve the common because the dog areas will be rotated so one area won't be destroyed, and the owners will be more likely to pick up after their dog because bags and bins will be supplied to them...
Amanda Barrett January 30, 2013 at 05:22 PM
P, good point, but I believe it will not solve the problem of dog owners not picking up. The city needs to completely prohibit dog fouling in public and fine anyone caught upto $1,000 or imprisonment. In Lakeland, Florida you get arrested for spitting on the ground. A college student just got arrested there for spitting...do a search on it. And here in Boston you got dog crap everywhere. Our health is more important than anything on this planet, lets take care of each other.
BH Resident January 30, 2013 at 05:27 PM
I agree with keeping Beacon Hill clean first as well! I don't see any "nasty" comments P? The Hill is filthy. I've caught owners letting dogs relieve themselves on my steps and my building. Only to apologize when they are caught. There are dog messes left all over the place. Just the other week there were 3 messes left directly outside my building and there are no dog owners that live here. I cant walk anywhere on the Hill without seeing dumped dog bags or messes. beacon Hill reeks of dog urine during the summer. Let's walk here before we run. The area of the park where the dogs roaned before was ruined. I don't think rotating areas will make much of a difference. You can count me out of hanging out in the park where it smells of urine and dog feces smushed into the lawn during the hot summer, sorry. It's not the dogs fault...
Matthew January 31, 2013 at 04:39 AM
No. How's that? The Common is a place for people to enjoy without worrying about being mobbed by animals or sitting where a dog could have just pooped minutes before, "cleaned up" or not. But, no one is allowed to tell a dog owner "no". Those of us who choose to not have pets are second class citizens. The world is a dog park.
Martha Brest January 31, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Most of you sound like crotchety, negative people who don't see the joy in anything. Dogs are wonderful companions and they lift the spirits of others in our community. I don't own a dog and don't want one right now, but watching the dogs frolic together and run around makes it evident how important it is for them to have a common meeting place. They need socializing for their own well-being. Also, the Boston Common historically has been and always will be for the general public, whether they own a dog or not. To prevent them access would be discriminatory. I agree that dog owners MUST pick up after their pets, but denying the dogs a rotating spot to play won't solve that problem. I believe that stiffer fines for dog owners who don't clean up after their pets would be the ideal solution.
Anna January 31, 2013 at 07:10 PM
I agree with Fool on the Hill. As a responsible dog owner on Beacon Hill (who does pick up after her puppy), I'd love to have safe areas for my dog to play on the Common, especially since there are many owners who already let their dog's off leash there!
Laurie January 31, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Anna, do you pick up # 1 after your puppy on public grounds? Of course not, then you are labeled irresponsible. Boston Health Department: Prohibit Dog Fouling in Public.
Laurie January 31, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Amanda, dog fouling in public should be considered a health crime with no fines, just imprisonment.
Patty February 01, 2013 at 03:22 AM
Anna, do you pick up # 1 in public areas? Do you disinfect the area of deposit? If you answered no to these questions, then you are not a responsible pet owner.
Ian February 01, 2013 at 12:42 PM
'Food on the Hill' get a grip... people like you make me laugh. Clearly there's an issue with lazy and irresponsible dog owners on Beacon Hill, either that, or you walk around blindfolded. Dogs certainly are great pets, so I'm not sure people don't see the value they bring, but constantly having to deal with the mess left by lazy owners is incredibly annoying! So, when you then read about them planning their ideas for dog use on the common surely you can understand that people see more of the same and don't want to wade through the mess left by lazy and irresponsible dog owners there, either. As for you 'P', saying dog owners will be more likely to pick up after their dog because bags and bins will be supplied to them, that's ridiculous. I obviously haven't measured...., but I suspect no condo/apt on Beacon Hill is much further than 50 yards from some sort of bin, but do you see bags of dog crap laying everywhere because the dog owner can't be asked to walk to the bin, errr yes!
Sandy February 02, 2013 at 05:42 AM
Dog owners need to stop putting the burden on us with all this crap because they cant care for their pet properly. Call the Board of Health if you see anyone promoting their pet to pee or poo on public grounds and report them. This gross filth act needs to stop because it is very unhealthy. Our streets are not toilets.
John February 02, 2013 at 05:47 PM
These dog owners will go to the dog park at let their dog walk and themselves all over the grass were other dogs have pooped and pee and then go home any carry all that nastiness in their home. Some dog people are so dirty and disgusting and their actions prove it in this city.
Beacon_Gal February 05, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Responsible dog owners pick up poop and meet the needs of their dogs. Irresponsible dog owners don't pick up poop and likely don't tend to their dogs exercise needs either. Without the Common, there isn't anyplace local that dogs can get the exercise they need to be happy. For everyone's benefit, it's important to have happy dogs in our community ... not anxious unhappy dogs. Think this is a great great idea. And ... it's happening anyway ... why not make it legal?
Takahiro Hiroi February 14, 2013 at 03:35 AM
It is unthinkable that there may be an unfenced area in the middle of a large city where dogs can run unleashed. There are millions of dog bites cases a year and small children walk in Boston Common as well as elderly who cannot fight against large dogs. If dog owners want to have their haven, they should move away from this city. If you want your dog run freely, you run behind it as fast as it does.
Lindsey February 14, 2013 at 07:00 PM
The level of ignorance on Beacon Hill is alarming! Anna, Laurie and the others that think an animal going to the bathroom or “foul” should be illegal in Boston- That’s pure insanity. Owners need to pick up or be fined, but you are showing your lack of intelligence with your ridiculous comments. The Cambridge researchers Paul Mellars and Jennifer French, in a paper in the journal Science, they concluded that "numerical supremacy alone may have been a critical factor" in human dominance. Now, with an analysis in American Scientist, the anthropologist Pat Shipman is building on their work. After analyzing the Mellars and French paper and comparing it with the extant literature, Shipman has come to an intriguing conclusion: that humans' comparative evolutionary fitness owes itself to the domestication of dogs. Yep. Man's best friend, Shipman suggests, might also be humanity's best friend. Dogs might have been the technology that allowed early humans to flourish.


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