Smithfield Dog Park Committee approaches finish line

Smithfield Dog Park Committee approaches finish line

The Town Hall / Mendes Field site would offer an opportunity to “carve” the dog park into an existing wooded hillside complete with large canopy trees that can provide shade. A small open field area would be enlarged to accommodate both areas for large and small dogs.

SMITHFIELD – Following a successful 3rd annual Smithfield Dog Walk, the Smithfield Dog Park Committee is unveiling sketches for two tentative sites.

“This is really exciting,” said Councilor Suzy Alba, Town Council liaison to the committee.

The committee is proposing the park be built either in Deerfield Park or behind Town Hall near Mendes Field.

The Deerfield Park site would be large enough to accommodate both a dog park and a parking facility for 23 to 25 cars. The sketch sheets also indicate that new fencing would be erected, as well as shade trees.

Sketches for the Town Hall/Mendes Field site describe the location as “an opportunity to ‘carve’ the dog park facility into an existing wooded hillside complete with large canopy trees that can provide shade and interest.”

A small open field area would be enlarged to accommodate areas for both large and small dogs. A short path would lead from the existing parking lot to a gathering terrace just outside the gates of the park.

Both site locations would be outfitted with park amenities, including a watering fountain, dog bone bench, and dog fitness features.

“Really, all that’s left to do is prepare the site,” Alba said. “Clear the land, put up fencing. That’s the meat and potatoes.”

A decision on a final site for the park will likely be made at a soon-to-be-announced Town Council hearing, according to Alba.

Over the past few years, the Dog Park Committee has mobilized community volunteers and raised $17,000 through fundraising to bring a new park to fruition. This year’s dog walk raised $6,600, with approximately $4,000 pledged by more than 20 local businesses.

Alba said she has obtained commitments from several businesses to assist with preparation of the dog park site and keep costs down.

The committee was also allocated an additional $12,500 during the Financial Town Meeting, bringing committee resources to an estimated $30,000.

“I think it shows there’s support for this in the community,” Alba said. “Over the years, a lot of residents have expressed interest. It’s a benefit to the community overall.”

Beth Cerroni, chairwoman of the Dog Park Committee, has been lobbying the council for a dog park since before 2009.

“I’m a dog nut,” Cerroni said.

The owner of two adopted dogs said she sees “a lot of people, especially at Deerfield Park, walking their dogs. And on the sidewalks, if there are any.”

The dog park would provide a safe alternative for dog owners without disturbing the neighbors.

“It’s not open at night. There’s no lights. It won’t be a disturbance,” Cerroni said.

Cerroni said the committee has also put thought into beautifying the appearance of the park and securing volunteers to assist with construction and maintenance.

“We’re not just going to throw up a chain link fence,” Cerroni said. “Our committee has put our heart and soul into this.”

The Deerfield Park site would be large enough to accommodate both the dog park and a parking facility of 23-25 cars.