Dog park on borough’s agenda

NAUGATUCK — Borough leaders want to create recreational opportunities for a wide array of residents, even those with four legs.

After nearly five years of discussion, Naugatuck is close to building a dog park, at no cost to residents, Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said.

He plans to ask burgesses for authority to use $50,000 in state grant money that Naugatuck has left over from previous, completed projects to pay for fencing around the park. The park would be constructed on roughly three acres of vacant borough-owned land on Andrew Mountain Road.

“We have land that is the perfect size,” Hess said. “And we have permission from the state of Connecticut to use the grant funds from former years, so no money would be applied toward this project from this year’s budget or next year’s.”

On top of a dog park, Hess said plans call for a community garden, walking trails and, in the future, a portion of the area can be used for athletics.

The money will come from grants the borough has received from the state’s Local Capital Improvement Program. The program gives municipalities money to reimburse projects such as road, bridge or public building construction.

Hess, who made the dog park part of his campaign platform, said he will put a discussion about the project on February’s Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting agenda. He said all work, including construction of a parking lot, will be completed by the Department of Public Works and should be finished by the spring or early summer.

“During the campaign, I was amazed at how many people were eager to implement a dog park,” he said. “The support we received for it was overwhelming.”

Burgess Rocky Vitale said he’s been trying to get a dog park in Naugatuck for five years and that people have been anxious to see one constructed.

He said some people may ask, “why does the borough need more parks when we don’t take care of what we have?”

“The answer to that is that everyone talks about how there isn’t enough to do, so this will be one more thing for people to do,” he said. “Plus we want to have a diverse use of the parks.”

The Department of Public Works will cut the grass, but the property will be maintained by a group of local volunteers. And while many dog parks in the area restrict their use to residents of those communities, Vitale said Naugatuck’s park will be open to anyone.

“People are going to come through town, stop to get something for their dog here or buy something for themselves,” he said. “We want to bring people into town.”

And dogs, too.

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