Zoners OK plans for dog park

NAUGATUCK — Following a public hearing last week, the Zoning Commission unanimously approved plans for a proposed dog park on Andrew Mountain Road.

“It’s been a six-year project to try and pull this darn thing off and it’s finally happening,” said Burgess Rocky Vitale, a longtime proponent of the dog park, during the March 16 hearing.

The fenced-in dog park is proposed to be built on 3 acres of borough-owned land on Andrew Mountain Road. The plan also calls for building a community garden, walking trails and a parking lot on the land.

Borough Engineer Wayne Zirolli said the fence for the dog park is expected to cost $50,000. Building a well near the community garden is projected to cost $10,000, he said.

Borough officials have previously said the money for the project would come from state grant funds left over from previous, completed projects.

“As far as expenses are concerned, it is a really low-expense project. Once it gets going, there is really not going to be a lot more,” Vitale said. “We are going to get the high school to come in, we are going to get the Boy Scouts to come in. They are going to build benches and tables. They will use it for their badges. They are very excited about doing this and helping us with this.”

Vitale said opening the park might help bring people to other borough amenities, such as restaurants and stores.

“We are going to open this up to anybody that wants to come down and if they want to come with their dog and play in the dog park and then go sit and do some outdoor dining downtown, that’s great,” Vitale said.

Paul Reilly, whose property abuts the proposed dog park, spoke in favor of the plan.

“I’m not a dog lover, but I do love the people who have dogs. In our church we always talk about building community. I think this dog park is going to build so much community in this town. People will get talking to each other,” Reilly said. “You are going to be surprised with the community and socializing that is going to take place in this thing. That’s why I am looking at it as a good thing for the whole city.”

Reilly said his main concern is the lack of street lights in the area. He said the street lights end well before the borough’s property or even his property.

“It’s so pitch dark there, especially in the wintertime, you can’t even imagine. You can’t see your hands in front of your face,” Reilly said.

Although the park is supposed to close at dusk, he said that doesn’t mean everyone will be out of there by then.

“Even at dusk, people get hung up sometimes and they’ll come out in the dark,” Reilly said.

Resident Robert Scavone, who was in favor of the dog park, raised concerns about the amount of water that would be diverted down the mountain with the addition of the driveway and parking lot.

Scavone, who lives downhill from the proposed site of the park, said there is already a significant amount of water that flows down onto his property when it rains. He said one of the serious problems is the lack of storm drains on Andrew Mountain Road. This ultimately leads to the water ending up on his property, he said.

“There is nowhere to catch the water and nowhere for it to go except for onto my property,” Scavone said.

Zirolli said the borough is considering creating a ditch along the parking area that would drain into a detention basin to help alleviate some of the water flow.

Commission members voiced their own concerns about who would be liable if a dog attacked another dog or person.

Vitale said the dog owners are completely liable for their own dogs. The proposed dog park would not increase the borough’s insurance cost, he said.

The proposal has to go before the Board of Mayor and Burgesses for final approval.