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Conservation Recommends Gurski Property for Kanine Kingdom

Recommendation contingent upon approval from state commission.

The Conservation Commission gave a favorable recommendation to building a dog park at the Gurski property on Obtuse Hill Road by a vote of four to one with the stipulation that the use be approved by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism (CCT), which is assisting with funding for the Gurski Homestead and Barn.

The Conservation Commission voted in favor of the location despite the disapproval of the Gurski Homestead Commission, which voted on a resolution May 2 that stated, “[The Commission] does not approve of the location of the proposed dog park.”

“I have nothing against a dog park, it’s strictly location,” explained Liz DeLambert, the sole member of the Gurski Commission who chose to speak at the Conservation meeting.

The problem with the location, according to the Gurski Commission, “Is our mission — attend to the Gurski part of the farm,” DeLambert said. “This seems far from that mission that we’re responsible for upholding.”

DeLambert also pointed to potential issues with parking and the nearby community gardens, managed by the Lion’s Club.

“When we have six people there at the garden, the whole parking area is full,” she said. “I was just totally amazed that you would pick that area to put a dog park on. In that respect, our commission did totally reject the proposal.”

Conservation Commission Chairman Alice Dew, who is also the town’s zoning enforcement officer, looked into that use on the Gurski property and “discovered that the Gurski Homestead Commission has gotten a grant and signed an easement agreement with the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism,” she said. “After reading this grant it came to my attention that anything that gets done has to go through them.”

Dew asked that if the Commission did vote that evening, the stipulation be added that it be approved by CCT.

After Keith Wolff and Gwendolyn Peterson — — presented the plans [attached] to the Conservation Commission, resident Veronica Erdmann offered a number of “points of argument.”

“I don’t see this group as a social organization that benefits the populous at large,” she said. “As a non-dog-owner, what does this park do for me?”

“I would say that the Lion’s are a social organization that the garden benefits more than the gardeners,” Erdmann contended, as the food grown in certain beds is donated to the local food pantry.

Erdmann also took issue with the proximity of the park from the parking lot, which is 300 feet, and the potential for soil contamination from fecal matter and urine.

“I know there’s dogs on the property now,” she said, “Increased usage would be my concern. Users would allow their dogs to urinate and defecate along that enticing tree border — there’s no way to control that, I understand that, but it’s the increased usage that would cause hygiene problems.”

Erdmann also wanted to know whether out-of-town dogs would be allowed to use the park.

Wolff wasn’t sure how that would be policed, however Peterson suggested that passes could be sold when people register their dogs with the town as a way to both ensure that the users live in Brookfield and that the dogs are vaccinated and registered.

Erdmann suggested that “a nominal fee” could be charged to handle future expenses, such as trash pick-up, but reiterated that she was “generally opposed to the location.”

“It’s not the concept, it’s the location,” Conservation member Mike Murphy asserted, the lone dissenting voter on the motion, who stated earlier in the meeting that he thought “the concept of this dog park is a tremendous idea — whether it’s at this location or another location in town, don’t give up. I like everything about it.”

With the approval of the Conservation Commission, Wolff and Peterson now have to take the proposal before the Planning Commission for a referral (a non-binding recommendation) and the Zoning Commission to ensure it meets the zoning code. If the application moves swiftly through the process, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) could vote on the proposal as early as August.

“I’m certainly in favor of establishing a dog park in Brookfield,” First Selectman Bill Davidson said. “It’s a small but important community amenity.”

However, “some questions have been raised about the Gurski site, whether that’s the best location,” he said, though the question of whether the site can even be used has yet to be settled.

“A definite no sometimes saves a lot of conversation,” he admitted, though if the CCT rules that the park is a permissible use, he said he would vote in favor of the site.

“If it passes the test of the state and the Conservation Commission, I will not second guess whether it is an appropriate use of the land,” he said.

As for the remaining questions raised, “We’ll look at those practical issues being raised,” such as parking and the nearby gardens, though Davidson said he has “confidence that the dog park will be well managed by the volunteers. It is self-sustaining, it is self-governing.”

After the Conservation Commission meeting, Wolff was confident that they would be able to get through the next steps in the process smoothly.

“Once we start to develop the final plan — especially the parking lot, that has to get buttoned up — we’ll put a full committee together” and begin fundraising and organizing donations and volunteers, he said. “I’m in sales, I’ll be relentless.”

Retired June 03, 2011 at 11:29 AM
Doesn't this have to be approved by the Board of Selectmen and subsequent town meeting? The community garden was approved by the BOS because it involves the use of public land.
Veronica Erdmann June 03, 2011 at 12:25 PM
apparently no town meeting required. check out original proposal. http://brookfield.patch.com/events/proposed-brookfield-dog-park-committee-needs-members#photo-6117878 that's why i felt compelled to speak out immediately.
Aaron Boyd (Editor) June 03, 2011 at 02:33 PM
It does have to be approved by the Board of Selectmen (as stated in the story), but will not require a town meeting.
Steven DeVaux June 03, 2011 at 02:54 PM
I suggest that should you feel the passion to oppose this strongly you can, according to our CURRENT town charter, pass around a petition (I suggest Shop Rite our local grocery store for residents) and collect signatures to force a town meeting...which you can do. Best of luck in the execution of your town chartered guaranteed rights.
Stephen June 03, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Obvious location for park should be SOMEWHERE on town hall property.
Deirdre Coury June 03, 2011 at 08:20 PM
Who will be responsible for cleaning up after the dogs on a timely basis? The dog owners? Volunteers? Someone paid for with tax dollars? Frankly I don't have a lot of confidence in proper cleanup after firsthand experience trying to take a walk on neighboring trails last winter. The trails were an absoloute obstacle course- I nearly slipped on the ice several times trying to avoid all the mess.
jamrsr June 04, 2011 at 01:19 PM
Ummmm - isn't there already a "park"? The open space on route 25 near Whisconier Road (happy landing?) is used for dogs now. Why not just fence in an area there? It's wide open and I always see people with their dogs at the property. Parking can be expanded. Am I missing something?
Steven DeVaux June 04, 2011 at 04:47 PM
This town needs a leash law. Too many dogs are walked without a leash. They either attack other dogs, wander into the street causing accidents and property damage or simply get lost causing a community-wide day(s) long search. They should put a hefty fine to raise revenues on people who break that law.
Melissa Y June 04, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Very true Steven..we just had this happen this morning on our street and dog from who knows where running around in the neighborhood/street going house to house. Dogs are crafty and when they want out they will find a way. Owners need to be more responsible. Regarding the proposed dog park...take a look at the New Milford CT Dog Park page on Facebook (a great resouce by the way). A few incidents have happened there...some not so good. I am all for a dog park and my dog too just concerned how to keep those few bad apples out of there.
Steven DeVaux June 05, 2011 at 03:57 AM
IF the Selectmen were concerned about safety, they would have taken care of the problem already with a couple of meetings and the establishment of laws. Once again they fail us.
Susan E June 05, 2011 at 03:56 PM
It doesn’t seem like anyone at town hall really thought much about where would be the best place to put a dog park. I haven’t seen anyone say why other sites like Happy Landings or Burr Farms are not being considered. When I looked at the plans for the dog park, it looks like the park would be only 100 feet downhill from the Community Gardens. Is that right? That seems too close for raw dog waste runoff to be to where people are growing food. Does the town have a health officer who could give advice on how far away a source of raw feces should be from a food supply? In light of the recent e. coli infections in Europe, this should be taken seriously.
Veronica Erdmann June 05, 2011 at 04:34 PM
Susan, it's worse than that. The proposed park is uphill from the gardens and also uphill from the stream that is the water source that is used for watering the gardens(although i admit to not knowing which way the stream flows.) Other sites were 'considered' by the principals but were not proposed. only what is proposed is up for consideration at the meetings. It is important to let the town know by letter (not on this forum) and for you to appear at necessary meetings to voice your opinion that Gurski Farm is not the correct place. Then it would be up to the principals to back out or change the proposed location. I think that Happy Landings could make a great alternate site with easy access, maintenance and close-by parking that would be accessible to people of all abilities. The Gurski proposal is not convenient to parking, it is not an easy walk for seniors or others with mild disability and maintenance for winter access would not likely happen.
Steven DeVaux June 06, 2011 at 01:53 AM
How will everyone know if a dog has gotten all it's shots? What about the Lyme disease infested ticks? There are serious health issues to be addressed here for both owners and the pets themselves. Are permits for use going to be issued? Tags of Compliance worn in open public view for piece of mind and safety? What is going to be the method of enforcement for those who inevitably do not comply? Police? A Citizen Commission? And what of a leash law? Pets wouldn't be getting lost if owners were required by law, subject to a fine, to keep control of their pets. I don't think money is the issue, health and safety, especially with tick season in full swing is...
wen peterson of Brookfield June 15, 2011 at 06:02 PM
This is an idea meant to IMPROVE the town's quality of life, not make anyone UNHAPPY. NOT increase taxes-it's all by volunteers, on land already donated to the town. If there's a better location, by all means-let's talk about it. We are looking at 5 or 6 locations and are open to any open space location ideas. It's hard when a group is trying to do something POSITIVE---to improve the town, and there are only negative comments. We can work together, and make this work for Brookfield. Almost every other town nearby I've visited has an off leash dog park. No one is forcing this on anyone--some people would just like a nice off leash, fenced-in dog park like every other town...and we're blessed to have volunteers, so it won't take money out of your pocket if it's not your thing. Incidentally, nothing is easy if you are disabled or elderly...But you do what you can, when you can. God bless.
Retired June 15, 2011 at 07:06 PM
I agree...it's easy to say the town needs a dog park but it seems there is a lot of questions to be answered in this proposal. We have adequate zoning in this town and most property have reasonable size lawns for a dog to roam. The Gurski Farm is not an ideal location for a dog park. Why not locate it at the town owned open space on Nabby Road? I am sure the people on those million dollar homes at Belden Hill Road would not mind. It would also benefit those dog owners at the Town Brooke Commons apartments on Nabby Road.
BobCat June 15, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Read this article from the Patch last year. This piece of land is relatively flat and perfect size for what you want to do. If cows are permitted to roam on it, I don't think that dog waste will be an issue. http://brookfield.patch.com/articles/conservation-commission-considers-cows
Suzanne E June 17, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Veronica,,,,,you don't even live in Broofield...you work there...but don't live there...stay out of it.

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