Stratford Dog Park Eyes Spot at Roosevelt Forest

The dog park campaign recently presented to the town's Roosevelt Forest Commission.

The couple advocating for a presented their case last week to the town body that regulates the land which they would like to see the park operate on.

"We wanted to explain that our volunteers would be an available resource for the forest too," Carissa Mason told Stratford Patch, via email. "We would be beautifying an underused area of the park."

Out of the 250 acres of , the dog park would operate on 1.5 to 2 acres, Mason's fiance, Matt DeBernardo, told the Roosevelt Forest Commission last week.

The fenced-in area would have two sides; one for small dogs 25 pounds and under, and one for large dogs 26 pounds and over. Minimal clearing is required and wood chips would cover the ground, DeBernardo said in his presentation. Proposed amenities include trash receptacles, benches, a kiosk, waste removal sites and a water spigot.

Mason said in her email that the only concern from the commission seemed to be location within the park. She said that will be something to be worked out at a future time. The commission supported the idea of running water at the dog park, said Mason, adding that running water is a "definite perk that many dog parks do not have."

In his presentation, DeBernardo gave reasons why Roosevelt Forest is the right fit for a dog park:

  • Set away from busy streets
  • A serene setting
  • Already dog-friendly -- "Can always find someone walking their dog on one of the trails."
  • Already furnished with parking, running water, maintenance sheds

DeBernardo stressed that the dog park can run without financial assistance from the commission nor the town of Stratford. He estimated the total cost of the park between $27,000 to $30,000 -- the bulk of it, $20,000, to purchase and install fencing.

"Fundraising and local business donations can reduce this number significantly," noted DeBernardo, adding that sponsorships, the Buy-a-Brick program, signage and advertising for local businesses could also help pay for costs.

Surrounding towns like Shelton have been able to raise enough money to maintain similar dog parks, DeBernardo said.

The formation of the Stratford Dog Park Action Committee (SDPAC) was made during the presentation. The committee, still assembling members, would work hand in hand with the Roosevelt Forest Commission and the town of Stratford, and would help facilitate volunteerism, maintenance, operation of park and fundraising, DeBernardo said.

The SDPAC would be responsible for all supervision and operating expenses of the dog park and would work closely with public works to install amenities and then keep the park clean.

[Anyone interested in becoming a part of the SDPAC should send an email to stratforddogpark@gmail.com]

Volunteers would be responsible for monitoring and enforcing the rules of the park, which would be posted on a kiosk, DeBernardo said.

The Stratford couple's push for a dog park is who say it would enhance the quality of the community, boost local business and interest in town, and offer dogs a place to run off-leash.

"This will be a boon to local families whose members include a pooch. If you don't have a dog, this isn't going to cost you anything so why not sit this one out?" said in the comments section of a previous article on the dog park, in response to a dog park naysayer.

Laurie April 17, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I would love to see a dog park here in Stratford and Roosevelt Forest would a perfect spot for it.
Jason Bagley (Editor) April 17, 2012 at 05:33 PM
For more information and updates on the dog park's progress, like Stratford Dog Park's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/StratfordCTdogpark Also: For those interested parties, there will be a volunteer meeting Saturday, April 28, at 10 a.m. at Roosevelt Forest.
George E. Mulligan April 17, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Dog Park is quaint idea, "likely" used by few and quickly forgotten. Good photo op for politicians. Everyone loves babys, kittens, and puppies. I suspect most people prefer to let their pet into their own back yard or walk the neighborhood street? Yet, if this cost tax payers next to nothing and makes some people happy? Why not? It's not like a Fire House that was supposed to cost under $ 2 million, yet by late 2009 likely passed $ 7 million due to change orders? Who knew those rounded bricks were gold bricks? ;-) Didn't former Democratic Town Committee Chairman Miron sell stones? Getting tombstones delivered .... somehow .... I dun know
Pete Kap April 18, 2012 at 04:08 AM
No. No. No. No! Please not a dog park.....I agree Roosevelt Forest is underutilized and I’m not trying to be negative here but I can think of better ways to maximize the use of the park. Let’s make Roosevelt Park a park for PEOPLE. There are plenty of nice sites (that need a little sprucing up) where people can camp, hike, and picnic etc. Let’s make it a park for the youth of Stratford. Roosevelt Forest would be an ideal place for a year-round nature’s classroom or a high-ropes C.O.P.E course for elementary and high school kids alike. I’m not say totally keep dogs out just please don’t let the dogs take over the park….
karen April 18, 2012 at 11:11 AM
It seems to me that a dog park and Roosevelt Park just naturally go hand-in-hand. It is a low cost perk for Stratford residents. Only using 2 out of the 250 acres is not inposing on any humans wishing to visit the park for other reasons. Let's do it... and without any years long squabbling!
Walt April 18, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Why do people buy a border collie and then moan that the town needs to provide land so their dog can run around?
Bianconeri1897 April 18, 2012 at 12:21 PM
The park is 250 acres, how is a two acre plot of land going to have the dogs taking over the park?
OldManTeenager April 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM
NO ONE USES THAT DUMB "FOREST" FOR ANYTHING! STOP CRYING THAT 10 FEET OF IT IS GOING TO BE A PLACE WHERE SOCIAL PEOPLE CAN BRING THEIR PETS! You just sit at home with no friends and not worry about what's going on at Roosevelt, like you've been doing your whole life already.
Kief Stone April 18, 2012 at 01:07 PM
You dummy.
Helene E. Logan April 18, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I think those folks who don't own dogs don't realize that dog parks are quite popular, are presented as 'quality of life' assets and are generally great promotion points for livability concerns. Roosevelt Forest would be a perfect spot I believe; it would help promote this jewel in the rough (honestly, how many of you who don't own dogs have actually walked through there? Show of hands?) and would actually help keep the park nice. See the dog parks in Westport, New Canaan, Greenwich, Rowayton, Branford, etc. Not bad company to keep. The parks promote 'good citizenship' for the dogs and their owners, and believe me, aggressive dogs and people are not welcome at these facilities. I don't have a problem with town money being spent on projects like this that help accentuate the town's family friendly aspect(s). A town that is nothing but a bunch of box stores, empty manufacturing facilities and donut shops is not likely to have a great future. A town that can accentuate the charm and assets it has (beaches, a forest, proximity to the trains--which will be even more vital in the future) will be a town worth living in. What we need is forward thinking. In times like these, that's what will generate an environment for success. And this sounds like a worthy plan.
Monica T. April 18, 2012 at 01:38 PM
The dog park is a brilliant idea- I say full steam ahead!
Deda April 18, 2012 at 06:57 PM
the Park is a great idea. One of the reasons I fell in love with stratford is because of how dog friendly the residents and over all community is. It is important to have your dogs socialized in a neutral setting. A public park is the perfect setting.
Pete Kap April 18, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I’m cool with a contained dog park within Roosevelt Forrest. I know that people need a space to walk their dogs and I respect that. Also as a future dog owner, I see great value with an idea like this. I just had some bad experiences with the “dog park” at Lake Mohegan in Fairfield. That park has a State stocked trout pond for anglers and has a fenced in walking trail around the pond for dogs and their owners. Some owners are better than others with keeping their dogs out of the water and away from the hooks of fishermen. Every time I try to enjoy the park, I have at least one dog leave the trail and disturb me while I'm fishing. Most people quickly call their dog back over and are apologize. Others are just plain rude and feel the park is exclusively for their dogs, like the woman who continuously threw a dog toy in the water near my line because it’s where her dog swam everyday… I understand Roosevelt is a different park and Stratford is a different town. I also understand that only a small portion of the park will be designated for the dog park. My main concern is the few irresponsible dog owners (not everybody that owns a dog) that feel entitled to let their dogs loose (outside the boundaries) with no regard for others. I guess the moral of the story is there needs to be respect between dog owners and other recreationalist if this plan goes through.
libertarian April 19, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Hi George, Just so you know, surrounding towns have dog parks that are packed every weekend. Thanks!
libertarian April 19, 2012 at 03:19 PM
people walk their dogs in Roosevelt all the time. How does 2 acres in a 250 acre park detract from that? Also, people can already hike, picnic, and Boy Scouts camp there. Allowing the family to bring their family pet to exercise and socialize can maximize the experience. when is the last time you went to Roosevelt and hiked, had a picnic? Half of the town doesnt even know Roosevelt exists.
Monica T. April 19, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Pete your point is understandable and reasonable, and normally most dog owners that frequent doggy parks are usually very courteous and have firm command over their pets-but then there is the occassional a**hole that spoils it for the rest of us dog owners. It's just one of those those common courtesy things I am afraid not everyone has and that we can't unfortunately fully control. We can however as a community enforce the rules and acceptable behaviors and hope for the best.
Pete Kap April 20, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I took a walk there last weekend. Please read my other comments below.
Frank Stirna April 20, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Anyone consider a small out of the way portion of the the Theatre property? It's centrally located, already has a parking lot, and would be easier to police. The Roosevelt Forest management plan's goal is to foster an old growth forest for people to experience in a natural state. The Management plan requires The Roosevelt Forest Commission to: Demonstrate sound, sustainable land stewardship · Improve forest health · Protect and enhance wildlife habitat · Provide recreational and educational opportunities · Conserve soil and water resources · Help achieve stated open space goals of the Town How does a Dog Park help accomplish those goals. Scouts and other people get permits and camp there to experience a forest. A dog park near the camping area would ruin it for them. Roosevelt Forest is a Wildlife Sactuary and an important birding area. Presently Dogs are not allowed in the Forest without being on a leash, for all the obvious reasons. It is an immense piece of property however much of it is off limits for use and other parts are inland wetlands, every square inch of that property with the exception of the Police pistol range, is native species habitat.
gduncanson June 10, 2012 at 01:02 AM
sorry, i can't support RF as a site for a dog park. the well meaning volunteers who will create this space fail to understand that a dog park (in dimunitive size and expense) will adversely affect the unique amenities that RF provides to Stratford residents. It is a benefit I enjoy nearly every day with our dog. A retreat from the urbanization (congestion, noise, pace) which are a fact of life in Stratford. We have to protect it's qualities of peacefulness and natural beauty, not apply modern thinking like maximizing our assets or full utilization. It's not a convenient park to get to, some residents describe their experiences in the park as 'creepy' it's so quiet, I pull deer ticks off myself and dog regularily and i know of at least two coyote dens in the park; the trails are old and badly eroded; but all that is to say that nature is waiting at RF for any town resident who wants to respect it. Your dog will love the walk and i hope you enjoy the change of scenery.
George E. Mulligan June 10, 2012 at 03:42 AM
I've been to the shakespeare theater more recently than in the past. Beautiful view. It's rare that I don't see at least 2 or 3 people walking their respective dogs. It seems to help keep the grass full and lush. There are many places which would make nice dog parks. It's almost oxymoronic for people to drive a couple miles to walk their dog(s) maybe an average of 100 yards? (distances are not important)
Walt June 10, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Brilliant, George, brilliant! Centralized location, abandoned for thirty years, a statue and hydrants for dogs to pee on, and plenty of parking that the town spent a half million dollars to install!
tom flosia March 04, 2013 at 01:18 AM
Man just put one in every park, one for every type of dog size. just spend 40k on fencing thats all you need.


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