Update on the Green Dog Program

The Green Dog program is being planned by a town committee including Leslie Mayer (Chairman of Parks and Recreation), Clarissa Rowe (Chairman, Board of Selectmen), and Joe Connelly (Director of Recreation). The Conservation Commission, Public Health, and Animal Control have also been involved in the program. This group is developing a pilot plan to allow dogs off leash, under certain conditions, in certain Arlington parks. When a plan is ready, it will be submitted to Town Meeting for a vote on whether to enact this change to the current leash law. (The current leash law does not allow dogs to roam “at large”, and specifies a 6 foot leash. As it is currently enforced by Animal Control, even owner-supervised dogs, or dogs receiving “recall” training with a longer leash, are in violation and their owners are subject to ticketing.) Last year, several Green Dog public meetings were held to introduce residents to the Green Dog concept and to allow them to provide input on a draft plan. Opponents of dogs off leash, as well as proponents, attended these meetings and/or submitted suggestions to members of the committee. Members of the Green Dog Committee decided, as a result of all the concerns they’d received, that last spring’s Town Meeting was too soon to propose a change to the leash laws. Some changes were made to the plan and another series of meetings were held. With input from these meetings, it is it is now anticipated that a plan will be submitted to Town Meeting for a vote in spring, 2009. This plan could be further discussed and amended during Town Meeting, so there is still time to provide input to the Green Dog Committee as well as to your Town Meeting Members (see below).

Leslie Mayer provided the following update for this article: “Since Town Meeting 2008, we have continued to explore issues raised at last year’s neighborhood Green Dog Meetings, including enforcement, costs, hours, locations, and fenced area details. The next group of neighborhood meetings have been scheduled for Nov. 6, 13, 20 and Dec. 4 (if needed) at 7pm in the Senior Center. These meetings are intended to bring the neighborhoods in to discuss the limits and parameters of specific locations and to refine hours to better suit the needs of each site.”

These meetings, now completed, each focused on a specific area. (There was also a follow up public working meeting on January 22.)
November 6th: Mt. Gilboa, McClennen, Turkey Hill,Hills’ Hill, Hurd, and Res
November 13th: Spy Pond/ Hornblower, Spy Pond Park, Magnolia, Waldo and Thorndike
November 20th: Menotomy, Robbins, Water Tower, Ottoson Woods and Poet’s Corner
December 4: Revisiting areas named above, in particular, as requested by opponents of dogs off leash in the Summer St. area.

A-DOG members were urged to attend these public meetings and to provide input to Leslie and her colleagues. Many of you did, but so did many opponents. It is still important for A-DOG members to contact the Green Dog committee, preferably by email, to ask questions about the plan and to inform them of your opinions and needs regarding legal off leash hours and sites in Arlington’s parks, especially in your neighborhood parks. This will help to ensure that the final Green Dog program will provide responsible dog owners with off-leash exercise and socialization options that will best serve our needs. Send your questions and comments on the Green Dog plan to Leslie Mayer (blmayer@msn.com), Clarissa Rowe (clrowe@comcast.net), and Joe Connolly (jconnelly@town.arlington.ma.us).

Now that a vote on the Green Dog plan is likely this spring, A-DOG members are urged to contact their Town Meeting Members, including candidates for election on April 4. Discuss with them how you’d like them vote on this issue during Town Meeting. If your precinct has an open position, consider running as a write-in candidate in the town elections yourself! Feel free to contact us at arlingtondogowners@gmail.com for any questions about Town Meeting, or other aspects of the process.

More information on the Green Dog program, and on an October 6 meeting of the Board of Selectmen discussing dogs off leash, can be found at these links:


Arlington Advocate

A report on the November 6 meeting appeared in the Arlington Advocate . Comments only from opponents were quoted by the reporter, though those of us who attended observed that it was a more balanced meeting and that many excellent statements were made in support of allowing dogs off leash in our parks.

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