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Referendum Tuesday: Kanine Kingdom at Happy Landings

Trace the origins of Brookfield's dog park proposal before Tuesday's town vote.

On Tuesday, registered voters in Brookfield with have the option to vote on whether or not a group of volunteers should be allowed to build a dog park — dubbed Kanine Kingdom — on a 1-acre portion of Happy Landings, a town-owned piece of open space on Whisconier Road.

[Check out the and see the property yourself through the .]

The proposal to build Kanine Kingdom at Happy Landings has met fierce opposition from a number of neighbors and a group of citizens who have organized the Happy Landings Association (HLA) in an attempt to prevent any development of the 74-acre open space.

After the Board of Selectmen (BOS) chose to , HLA members .

“Not only were people unaware of this proposal, but they were also angry that it has even been considered,” HLA member Laila Ferrara said, explaining the push for a referendum. “The town voted overwhelmingly by referendum to have Happy Landings deemed permanently protected open space.”

The first referendum on whether to purchase the land , 988-988. The referendum was held again, per the ruling of then-Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, and passed 1,424-563.

“Put the bark park elsewhere and leave Happy Landings alone,” Ferrara said.

That sentiment echoed at the town meeting, held in order to set the date of the referendum. Of the , only three spoke in favor, while the rest demanded they find a new location.

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No Other Dogs in this Race

Brookfield resident Keith Wolff, founding member of Supporters of Kanine Kingdom (SOKK), first broached the idea of pulling together a committee of volunteers to build and manage a dog park in town with the Gurski Homestead Commission in March 2011, SOKK’s first choice of location.

The as a good site for a dog park despite . However, Conservation’s approval hinged on the assent of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which holds a stake in the Gurski property through historic restoration grants.

, stating in a June 2011 letter that they were “concerned that additional traffic would compromise the preservation of the buildings,” which was of primary concern.

, including the Burr property, Eriksen Farm Open Space and Happy Landings.

In May 2012, for the park.

According to Conservation Chairman Alice Dew, of all the town’s open space, .

Conservation “evaluated all the properties,” Dew said, adding that Happy Landings was the only one to get a favorable vote from the commission members.

Burr Farm and the Greenknoll Open Space both suffer from poor access and no parking, as does Eriksen Farm, which is also currently a bird sanctuary.

Happy Landings, on the other hand, is centrally located and has ample parking near the road and the proposed dog park area.

“We felt it was a reasonable use of open space,” Dew said, “A passive use of recreation.”

For members of HLA, the fact that Happy Landings is the only town-owned space available is not a strong enough reason to allow the use of the property.

"What Brookfield won, by referendum, with a margin of almost 3 to 1, was a beautiful place to remain just as it is — a wide open pasture with a wide open sky," . Norman warned that, though the proposal only requests an acre of the property, allowing a dog park "makes the land vulnerable to any other private activity that someone may wish to set up on the field in the future."

“Why do we need to put it on town property?” HLA member Michelle Berg said. “If this is privately funded, why can’t they find private property?”

Berg and others have recommended going to private commercial landowners in town to see about possible donations or cheap leases, an avenue SOKK member Lisa Allan said they have tried, but to no avail.

“We have explored all other possible options; both town-owned and private,” . “The only way to get a dog park in Brookfield is on Happy Landings.”

Polls will be open Tuesday at (District I) and (District II) from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Contact the with any polling questions. 

Michael Gianfranceschi June 26, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Nili, the town did not approvwe the site and the conservation committee recommended Happy Landings there is a difference. as far as a slippery slope read the minutes of the Feb meeting. and the reason there is a referendum because our fearless first selectman gave the town five days (three business days) to inform everyone in town that there would be a town meeting
George June 26, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I spoke to the person that that lives about 10 (ten) feet from the New Millford dogpark who happened to be at the park walking a friends dog. He said he had no issue with the dog park, didn't smell and he had no issues with noise. I care about my neighbors, enough to find out what would impact them before voting. This will NOT have a negative impact on anyone living next door to a park, but it WILL have an positive impact to the good people of this town that want to use the park.
George June 26, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Many of the adjacent neighbors are for the park. This will not have an impact on them. Dog parks are quite and do not smell. There are already dogs in happylandings, most people that go have a dog with them.
George June 26, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Gurski Park. Ericson Park. Town Hall. Burr Farm to name four prior proposals. Other parks are much closer to houses (New Millford) and schools. Happy Landings was proposed by the conservation commission who mentioned a dog park was a suitible use for open space . A fenced in area for animals??? i know, sounds like a crazy idea for a farm. Next they will want a vegi garden, horrible
George June 26, 2012 at 12:53 AM
HLA paid for every penny? are you paying the $7,000 for the referendum you made go through to avoid an equally fair town vote?
George June 26, 2012 at 12:56 AM
A sign is not going to explain everything that can be done with a site, only general rules for visitors.
George June 26, 2012 at 12:59 AM
If the "preserve" people won every time there would probably be 10 houses in town and non of us would be talking about this. HL was a forest, i'm sure there were people out to "preseve" the land when the tree's were cleared. if you want it "preserved" its going to turn back to a forest.
George June 26, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Opposition has maybe 100 signs out there, many on town property. Also have multiple signs in front lawns, also illegal. I guess the opposition has selective vision and only follows certain laws.
George June 26, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Why "Preserve Brookfield" on the signs? I figured these were recycled from a prior vote. Why not "Vote No to HappyLandings Dogpark" Seems to me you are hiding what the vote is for. Unfortunately it will say what it is for on the ballet.
George June 26, 2012 at 01:09 AM
People were opposed to the existing parking lot in happy landings. anyone visiting remember that they don't want you there period.
George June 26, 2012 at 01:11 AM
a referendum costing $7,000 put in place by the opposition ie vote NO. in place of a free town vote which would have been just as fair to both sides.
Michelle June 26, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Woohoo Roxy!!!! Thats a good dog! Thanks Matt for your continued support and wise advice. There are many other dogs just like Roxy that don't support the dog park at Happy Landings. Many town residents of dog owners are NOT in favor. Many have conveyed that their vote of choice will be a solid NO. Thanks again for yours and your furry friend's support! :-)
Michelle June 26, 2012 at 02:20 AM
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/lG9aBNbFbPo"; frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> Vote NO!! Make a stand and continue to protect permanently protected open space Happy Landings! SAVE Happy Landings from ANY development!! Thank you for your support! We look forward to seeing you at the polls!
Lisa Foltz Allan June 26, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Leasing a property is out of the question as well. There is no hiding that. A dog park is for the community, even if some don't want it. You will always have people that oppose something. How many people opposed Kids Kingdom?? Like I've said before, we are not proposing a nuclear power plant! It's a fence. If the dog park legitimately got out of hand or out of control I would make sure it was shut down myself. Yes, it's Happy Landings or nothing at this point because all other options have been exhausted. Honestly, the more I think about it and the more personal it gets, the more I realize and become offended at the people you think we are. We wouldn't propose something without researching it first and knowing if it was going to "ruin people's lives". I don't believe the conservation committee would recommend a spot they thought was going to make lives miserable either. Win or lose I learned a lot and will be glad when tomorrow is over.
Frank June 26, 2012 at 02:55 AM
I agree that the preserve signs are misleading.
Lisa Foltz Allan June 26, 2012 at 03:16 AM
There are plenty more illegal signs placed. A few on Stony Hill, The long rd the HS is on, Federal Rd. I don't really care. I don't think they make sense. If you want to preserve Brookfield you should be fighting all the corporate agencies, major stores coming in ripping everything apart. I believe you're being misleading. Putting up a fence to let dogs run off leash is hardly taking over brookfield, let alone Happy Landings. Having a fear of future development on HL is fine but I don't believe the people who want a dog park should suffer from your fears. If and when that time comes wouldn't it be nice to have allies rather than people that may hold grudges because of a vote in June 2012? Just saying...
George June 26, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I vote improve the entrance, dog park or not, there is a HUGE pothole there making it difficult to even get into the lot without bottoming out.
George June 26, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Happy Landings is about 70 acres, this would be 1%. If the dog park were there you wouldn't be able to see, hear or even know there was a dog park on the majority of the site. I live a few streets down, all the houses on the roads mentioned about would have the same impact as me, zero negative impact.
George June 26, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Good article. Dog parks cited to increase home prices, a criteria for new home buyers. http://www.easywebonline.com/ewo/RealtorNews.asp?newsid=206
George June 26, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Lets get something clear, if we were to take the lease that was offered by the opposition, the opposition would not only win but also be making money off the proponents. You want us to not only give up but pay you. If you were willing to pay the lease, which you seem to think is no big deal, we would be willing to relocate the effort (assuming it is in fact a comparable location. You would get something (happy landings as you want) and we would get something, a new site with comparable costs. the opposition has not offered any alternatives, only attempts to sell us their real estate. nice.
barb norman June 26, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Lisa, you have a habit of making vast sweeping statements with no basis in fact. FYI, "the long road the HS is on" is called Longmeadow Hill Road. Surprised you don't know that simple fact since you seem to consider yourself such an expert on what this town needs or doesn't need. It is also a road with many, many residents on it. Any signs on Longmeadow are placed on residential property WITH PERMISSION. Throughout this entire debate, you have made statements that had no factual proof surrounding them, and continually state that no town funds will be used. What nonsense - and when the necessary use of town funds is pointed out to you, you simply ignore them. Your group has continuously proposed that people who oppose your park on the site of Happy Landings should donate land to you. What an ingenuous idea!! You have taken Descarte's "I think, therefore I am" and turned it into "I want, therefore you must give it to me." You are the embodiment of Ayn Rand's warnings in Atlas Shrugged. Scary thought.
Lisa Foltz Allan June 26, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Please don't pull out Ayn Rand and Descarte to me. Philosophy was one of my double major in college. We don't need to go there NOR do we need to go to the bible which was quite an offensive statement I might add. Trust me when I say there are signs on public property that do not have permission. But I don't care! I do not believe I have ever said anyone "should" donate a piece of property for us. I don't believe that at all. What I do know is that we don't have money to buy, let alone lease anything. Be careful of your accusations!
Michelle June 26, 2012 at 12:50 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG9aBNbFbPo Today is the day!!!! Share your vote!!!
Lisa Foltz Allan June 26, 2012 at 01:12 PM
What's the reasoning behind "preserve brookfield"? It's a fenced in almost acre. I don't want to see HL go anywhere either! I believe you are misleading people to believe Happy Landing is getting bulldozed.!
Jeff Albarn June 26, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Will this be over once the referendum has passed? I sure hope so...I love dogs, and am fortunate to have a large yard in which they can run free...I sure hope the proponents have a private area for their K-9's to move around leash-free if this doesn't pan out...It's truly been an exercise in free speech, and opened a healthy dialogue about the town's desires to move forward, but preserve its past at the same time.
buildaskateparkathappylandings June 26, 2012 at 03:40 PM
I don't think Ayn Rand had dog parks and proper placement of signs in mind when she wrote Atlas Shrugged. I wanted to join this discussion, but I don't want to lower myself to the ad hominem attacks that are going on over a suggestion of passive recreation on open space. Let's compromise instead: Vote for the dog park to be built on the property of the angriest resident in this thread; they wouldn't be mad anymore with all the cute puppies playing in their backyard.
Marilyn Pinard June 26, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Why are we so upset about a dog park at Happy Landings - no one seemed to care about protecting the wildiife, land or the homes around the park when they voted to allow deer hunting there. So it is okay to shoot arrows near houses but don't let your dog play there.
Steve BKFD June 26, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Reading these posts, one can only imagine if this is OK'ed............The litigation that will go on with: When Lassie bits little Yorkie Phoo. Pumpkin twists his leg in a hole the moles made. No fresh water is provided for FeeFee. Fido gets into the first gate before Nickie get out of the area. The Grass had “ticks” in it and now who’s paying for Ralphies doc bills. Etc, Etc, Etc,
buildaskateparkathappylandings June 26, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Minus the gating hypothetical situation you mentioned, all of those are possible scenarios at Happy Landings as it currently stands. AFAIK the town has not had any lawsuits about those moles or ticks....YET. poor Pumpkin :-(
Brian Kelly June 26, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I happen to be on the other side of this issue, but I appreciate the time, effort and thought you put into your video...unfortunately, though, you were upstaged by your crazy cat.

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