News center
Deep expertise in sales and manufacturing strategies

Several Residents Oppose Plans For New Dog Park In Glenville

Nov 30, 2023

GREENWICH, CT — Plans for a new dog park in town received pushback from several Glenville residents this week who said they were never made aware of the project, and that the park would increase traffic and potentially lower the value of nearby homes.

The Greenwich Board of Selectmen on Thursday revisited the proposal for a new dog park in Glenville behind the Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic Center.

In a public/private partnership, Pet Pantry, a beloved local business, has pledged $30,000 to spruce up a small area off Hawthorne Street North.

First Selectman Fred Camillo, a noted dog lover and proponent of the project, said the location is already used by dog owners to some degree.

Very little would be added, except for a fourth fence to enclose the area, landscaping and plantings, benches, and some features for dogs to enjoy. A sign denoting the "Pet Pantry Community Dog Park" would be installed nearby.

In the two weeks since the proposal was first presented by the Board of Selectmen, Camillo said he has received plenty of feedback, the majority of which has been "overwhelmingly positive."

"Glenville especially had a concern about parking. Certainly, there's not going to be any more parking added," Camillo said, noting that the dog park would be utilized by Glenville residents who can walk over.

Some parking is available at the civic center, which would require a short walk up behind the building.

There's also some space to park on Hawthorne Street North, Camillo said, but the town would work with the Department of Public Works and police "to make sure that's not abused."

"I don't think people will leave one neighborhood to come to another one [to use the park]," Camillo added. "I think this is more for the people on the Western side of town, in keeping with our plan to have one in the center, which we do [with Grass Island], one on the Western side and one on the Eastern side."

Still, a handful of residents who live in the immediate area of the proposed dog park spoke out against the idea on Thursday.

Joanna Podewils Horan, who lives at the corner of Grey Rock Drive and Hawthorne Street North, said she often runs or walks with her dog and two-year-old child. She said parking was her biggest concern, and she believed people would not want to park at the civic center and have to walk.

Parked cars along Hawthorne Street North would decrease visibility and make it unsafe for pedestrians, she said, adding that the town's priority should be adding more sidewalks in the area and addressing public safety.

She criticized Camillo for "lackluster" communication in getting the word out on the proposal to residents.

Camillo said the plans have been public for weeks, and he's made mention of the dog park on social media, through the local media, and in his weekly newsletter.

Another neighbor, Greg Solomon, said he found out about the proposal shortly before Thursday's meeting.

"I want to speak for the people in the neighborhood that do own dogs. I think if you were to poll us, you wouldn't get the same reaction that you're saying you've gotten from the people you've spoken to," Solomon said to Camillo. "I don't think there's any room here for more traffic or more parking. There are plenty of kids who play on the street, and having an official dog park will draw people to the area... The dog owners here that live right nearby, we're doing just fine without an official dog park."

Solomon's neighbor, Constance Oehmler, said the dog park would adversely affect the neighborhood.

"If you create a dog run there, and there are parking problems, increased traffic, and danger to those who are young and walking, you have to realize you will lower the value of our houses, and we will not take kindly to that," she said, accusing Camillo of being in a "hurry" to get the park approved. "I believe the constituency this affects should be spoken to so you can really get a feel of just how vehemently opposed everybody is."

Camillo said the feedback he received was "probably 8 to 1" in favor of the park.

"I'm not in a rush to do this," Camillo said. "We do second reads [of agenda items], and we've been talking about this for months publicly."

Camillo went on to say that Oehmler's concerns were similar to those raised by residents in 2000 when the Grass Island dog park was first proposed. Camillo helped spearhead that effort, and the park was eventually built after five years of debate.

"When we first proposed a dog park on Grass Island, people said our home values are going to decrease, there's going to be a tax by dogs on innocent people walking, kids will be afraid to walk home from school. We finally got the dog park in 2005, and not one of those things has happened," Camillo said.

Mike Monaco, another Glenville resident, said he wanted to see more plans for the park. Camillo said he'd work to get renderings and more details posted on the town website as soon as possible.

Selectwoman Lauren Rabin voiced support for the project, but she also said she wanted more published details. She also volunteered to go door-to-door in Glenville to get the word out to more residents.

No vote was taken on Thursday. If ultimately approved, the matter would go to the Representative Town Meeting, which has one more gathering scheduled for June 12 before they take a summer break until September.

Janet Stone McGuigan said that when it comes time for the board to vote, she will abstain.

"This is a neighborhood dog park. It's not like Grass Island where the community comes together from outside," she said. "So symbolically, given this will be going to the RTM, I would want to give my vote to District 9 [in Glenville], because that is the constituency that would have the greatest interest in this matter."

Camillo said the residents' feedback was welcome and all concerns will be looked at.

"I don't want this to be pushed off, pushed off, and pushed off," Camillo added. "We love the feedback, and certainly, we want this, whatever goes there, to be something that everyone can enjoy."

Richard Kaufman Related: