The agenda for Monday night’s Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting includes the discussion of the , a 74-acre piece of town-owned land on Whisconier Road.
Brookfield residents for dogs and their owners, proposing using space near the Gurski Homestead, however that proposal was . After assaying all of the town-owned open space as potential locations, Conservation ultimately decided that Happy Landings was the only appropriate location.
According to Conservation Chairman Alice Dew, the commission considered each property separately and Happy Landings was the only one to get a favorable vote.
The on Nabby Road was looked at, for instance, however it is currently a bird sanctuary and the long-term use of the property has not been mapped out yet.
and the both suffer from access problems and Cadigan Park and Town Hall lack enough space for an acre park.
Happy Landings, on the other hand, is “somewhat centrally located,” especially when compared to other town properties, Dew explained, and there are few residential properties that abut the proposed spot, which would be a little less than an acre adjacent to the parking lot and the road.
“We felt it was a reasonable use of open space,” Dew said, adding that a dog park is considered a “passive use of recreation.”
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Some neighbors, however, have come out in opposition to changing Happy Landings, both out of a desire to maintain preserved open space and to prevent a potential nuisance from entering the neighborhood.
Brookfield resident Laila Ferrara, who lives just up the road from Happy Landings and brings her dog there to walk the trails, said she and a number of others are opposed to any development of the area.
“Although many of us would enjoy a dog park in Brookfield, we would not agree to changing Happy Landings,” she said. “It is valuable open space and home to wildlife that should not be displaced or scared away by any change to the environment.”
Proponents of Kanine Kingdom have argued that their request is for a small section of the property and that the dog park won’t ruin Happy Landings’ bucolic setting.
Dew agreed, explaining that Conservation chose to locate the park up front where it would have the least impact on the total space.
“This would not be very intrusive,” she said. “It’s not going to ruin the view.”
Ferrara also noted that increased noise from barking dogs could irate those who live directly next to the park.
“It’s incredibly disrespectful to the Brookfield residents who live around the space to tamper with their home environment,” she said.
Happy Landings neighbor Helen McCormack said she doesn’t think noise will be an issue, as people go to the space with their dogs now and the din doesn’t carry. McCormick doesn’t have a dog herself but enjoys the open space and wouldn’t be opposed to using a portion for a dog park.
“The land is so nice,” she said, “I don’t think it gets used enough.”
Another neighbor agreed that noise probably wouldn’t be a problem, but wondered whether increased traffic would be a problem, as she has trouble leaving her driveway onto Route 25 as it is.
Marcia Diniez, who lives across the street from the property, said she would be fine with using the park for something more than open space, however she would prefer to see something for the town’s youth.
“I have two kids [ages two and 10] and dog,” she said. “The dog is fine, we need to think about the kids now.”
Diniez noted the , however the playground is geared more toward younger kids rather than the town’s adolescents and teens.
While the space was purchased for protection from development, “All town properties are available to become whatever the town votes for them,” Dew said, as the town has considerable leeway in deciding how protected property can be used. Any resident or user group can request the use of town-owned space, she explained, with “Conservation, as advisory, making a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen, who ultimately makes the decision.”
The BOS meets at 7:30 p.m. June 4 in the Brookfield High School (BHS) media center.