BAR HARBOR — Reviving an idea that has been brought up at various times in the past, a Bar Harbor couple is leading an effort to create a fenced-in dog park at Glen Mary Park.
Enoch Albert and Sharon Knopp said the community needs a place where dogs can be off leash.
“Dog parks can create a real sense of community for people,” Knopp said. “Dog owners love to have a place where they can go and let their dog off leash for a while, chat with other people and know that their dog is getting exercise. The dogs are happy; the people are happy. Communities come together around their dog parks.
“We love Glen Mary Park; the woods are beautiful. But it’s very underutilized for a town park,” Knopp said. “Several people have told us they had thought for years that it would be a perfect location for a dog park.”
In 1894, Glen Mary Park was given to the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association (VIA), which leases it to the town. The property is wooded except for a fenced-in wading pool.
The VIA board of directors approved the concept of a dog park at Glen Mary in October. Board member Helene Harton said none of the members present expressed opposition or concerns. The board suggested that the dog park proponents develop a plan.
“So, we sat down with a group of people and talked about what this would look like and how we could mitigate any potential impacts on the neighborhood,” Knopp said.
She and Albert presented their proposal to the town’s Parks & Recreation Committee on Feb. 7. The committee deferred action pending further consideration and a visit to Glen Mary Park on March 7.
Committee Chair John Kelly said he has several concerns including the impact on neighbors – particularly the sound of barking dogs and the potential for parking problems – and the impact on the property itself, especially the trees.
“Looking at it from the town’s perspective, anytime you dedicate a town park to a particular use, you are displacing other users,” Kelly said. “My big concern is, if we create a dog park, that’s going to exclude people who use that park as it is now.
“We also should consider the demand. If we dedicate the park for this use, how much use is it going to get? How many people need a dog park to get their dog out?”
(Kelly is an Acadia National Park employee, but he serves on the Parks & Recreation Committee as a private citizen.)
The Parks & Recreation Committee is an advisory body. It makes recommendations on matters such as the dog park to the Town Council, which has the final say.
As for whether there will be barking at the dog park, Albert said, “That will happen. But our experience at dog parks is that dogs will sometimes bark when a new dog arrives, and then they start running around and don’t do much barking.
“We envision having signs that say how many hours a day the park is open. And if a dog is aggressive or barks and barks, the owner should remove the dog.”
What would be done about litter and the…er, items that dogs leave behind?
“Dog poop is an issue in Glen Mary Park right now; we’ve heard it from a lot of people,” Knopp said. “We think this will help solve it.”
Albert said there would be bag dispensers for people who don’t bring their own bags, and that he and Knopp have talked with Bethany Leavitt, the town’s public works director, about the town providing trash receptacles and trash pickup.
“What we have found going to a lot of different dog parks is that people are pretty responsible about picking up litter and dog poop if there is a place they can deposit it,” he said.
He also said the wooded area within the dog park would remain as it is; the trees would not be disturbed.
Kelly raised the question of where people who live too far from the dog park to walk would park their cars so that they don’t create a problem for residents of Glen Mary Road, Waldron Road or Norris Avenue.
Signs along Spring Street, on the west side of Glen Mary Park, say parking there is by permit only, but Knopp and Albert said hardly anyone ever parks there. They suggest replacing those signs with ones that read, “dog park parking only.”
The proposed dog park would be about an acre in size, surrounded by a chain link fence. Preliminary estimates from two fence companies were for $22,000 and $32,000. Knopp said both contractors plan to come this spring to measure the area and provide firmer estimates. The fence would be paid for with private donations.
“We want to set the fencing back in the trees so it’s not running right along the curb, not in neighbors’ faces,” Knopp said. “We’re trying to be sensitive to neighbors.”
She and Albert have set up a Gmail account – [email protected] – so that people who want to support the dog park effort can be kept informed.