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Residents to Vote on Dog Park at Happy Landings

Selectmen support the use of open space but call town meeting for final decision.

After hearing from Keith Wolff and Lisa Allan, two Brookfielders , and a number of dissenting residents, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) expressed unanimous support for the Conservation Commission’s suggestion of locating the park at Happy Landings. However, anticipating the public’s interest, the selectmen also moved to schedule a town meeting to put the proposal to a vote.

In crafting the motion, First Selectman Bill Davidson noted that their support of Conservation’s recommendation was only a means of stating their individual positions for the record and not a binding approval.

“If we vote yes, we’ll see a petition for a town meeting; if we vote no, we’ll see a petition for a town meeting, so let’s let the town decide if they want a dog park at Happy Landings,” Davidson said.

The BOS voted unanimously to schedule the town meeting, which has been set for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in the (BHS) auditorium.

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“I have no real objection to Happy Landings and I had no real objection to Gurski,” Selectman Howard Lasser said, referencing , which was , which . “This is a good use of open space, wherever it happens to land. We have a commission that has made a recommendation to us and I see no reason to object to that recommendation.”

Selectman George Walker agreed, in part.

“A dog park in this town in the long term would be very positive,” he said. However, “I’m not sold on Happy Landings, quite frankly.”

Walker requested more information about why the Gurski property was rejected and, upon reading a copy of the letter from the state, said he would like to revisit that possibility.

“I’d like to keep the Gurski option open,” he said, adding that he would look into it further at the state level.

Questions Dogging the Process

In answer to questions from the BOS and members of the audience during the preceding public comment [see video above], Wolff attempted to assuage some fears about the town’s potential liability.

“The state statutes of Connecticut basically say that each dog owner or caregiver is responsible, is liable for any damage that a dog does to a person or another dog,” he explained.

“This is not a significant liability situation,” Davidson agreed. “First because of the law,” he said, however, “You look at the number of things the town does — 50 kids on a school bus in the snow, heavy trucks on the highways, the town beach — the potential liability here is pretty far down on the pecking order.”

Davidson said he was initially more concerned about whether a dog park would be an appropriate use of open space.

“I reached out to the Department of Environmental Protection [DEEP] and the National Parks Service and both of those bodies said that they would give grant money for a dog park, and have, for open space,” he reported, noting that those agencies “wouldn’t give it if it was forested, but would for a situation like Happy Landings.”

Davidson was also interested in the long-term financial plan for continued maintenance of the property, which is to be funded and manned by a committee of private citizens.

“I’m less concerned about your initial capital plan — I’m more concerned about how you’d fund for three, four, five years out,” he said. If the voters ultimately decide to support the location, “We would not let you proceed until we were comfortable with whatever economic plan you brought forth.”

“It’s about institutionalizing the process,” Lasser added, to ensure that the taxpayers don’t end up with the burden down the road.

“That’s the biggest issue,” Wolff agreed, as volunteers’ attentions can fade. “In New Milford — they’ve been in business for two years — they benefited from a wealthy donor that basically gave them enough money to be an operating budget for several years out.”

Once the location and plan are in place, Wolff and the other committee members plan to start an aggressive funding campaign, tapping local residents and pet-affiliated businesses, as well as national funding sources that support these projects.

“We need a plan first… we need approval before we can get donors to come in,” he explained.

According to Wolff, the major cost will be the fence, estimated at about $20,000 to surround just shy of an acre. The remaining money raised would be put toward operating expenses, such as repairs, bags for picking up waste and trash pickup.

“The challenge is to keep people interested,” he said. “People will fall out, but I think other people will come in to contribute. I think it will always be a work in progress.”

BuckWheat June 06, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Hope the town has great insurance coverage for when one of these dogs bites someone while on town property
Jill Lucas June 06, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Lisa, don't you see it as your obligation to answer peoples questions since you are at the head of the committee, even if it means repeating yourself. Heading a committee means more than holding meetings that are only for people who agree with you.
Jill Lucas June 06, 2012 at 11:52 PM
I find it hard to believe no brookfield businesses were interested in a tax break on a land donation. What businesses did you contact, when and how were they contacted?... You think KC did it out of the kindness of their hearts and love of dogs?
Lisa Allan June 07, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Jill, I don't know who you are or when you began to follow this story but if you look back at the comments from the first article, you will answer a lot of your own questions. No one said I was the head of the dog park committee and I certainly don't have an obligation to answer anyone, read any of these comments or respond. I said for a week after the first article in the Patch came out that I was here to answer any questions. That was MY choice. For the sake of "your side" I really wouldn't stir the pot. I believe that the people on your side and I were starting to at least get along even with different opinions.
Jill Lucas June 07, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Lisa, you and Mr. Wolff are the ones who first approached the conservation commission, were you not?.. And apparenty I'm not the only one who can't read because Michelle is still looking for answers to the same questions I asked.... And you still haven't answered. New Milford has residents who donate land they own (developers included) who have land that is too small or not zoned correctly To avoid paying taxes, they simply donate it. Seems odd no one in Brookfield wants a tax break in this economy. I'm not out to stir the pot. You seem to want the credit for this movement, but none of the criticism. The same people keep asking the same questions and we get the same answer "I already answered that"... And we just keep running in circles. I have been following this story for some time, just finding it harder and harder to keep my mouth shut.
Lisa Allan June 07, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Jill, No, that is not how this process began. The other property question HAS been answered numerous times. Also, anything that went to the conservation Committee is public knowledge. I'm not looking for credit for anything. I'm probably public enemy number one to a large amount of people...BUT I'm being the voice for a lot of people. I am not the enemy here. The town wants a dog park...there is opposition. There was opposition at every place we looked at. As someone else said, you will never have everyone on the same side. I'm sorry you find it "odd" no one in Brookfield wants to donate land. Again, not my fault. It's not my job to call every person that owns property and ask them. I've done a lot of that and the conservation committee already handed us a plot plan that I do not believe will disturb the beauty of Happy Landings.
mark eason June 07, 2012 at 09:02 PM
What's the big deal I just let my dogs run hog wild there without a leash and mess all over the place
Jim Marks June 07, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Dogs don't poop in buildings, why do they need a building to poop??
Andrew Turkenkopf June 08, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Dog bites are responsibility of dog owner.
Andrew Turkenkopf June 08, 2012 at 12:18 AM
This is the concern a dog park addresses. Technically, what you are doing is illegal. They must be on leashes, mainly for safety issues. If you really want, I can go in detail . . .
Andrew Turkenkopf June 08, 2012 at 12:19 AM
fence =! building
Bob McGarrah June 08, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Folks, are you going to just let the State say no, you can't- and accept that (referring to Gurski Farm) - where is our State Rep. when we need him? The State seemed to have raised some questions in their letter, not issue an absolute no.
Jim Marks June 08, 2012 at 09:35 AM
My dog is the Cartman of dogs, I let him do whatever he wants
Steven DeVaux June 08, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Mark, That's what people do with their ferral cats in Brookfield anyway. Why discriminate against one class of pets? Do you see cat owners out picking up after their cats?
Steven DeVaux June 08, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Jim, A good question to be asked is why aren't there cat parks. Perhaps it's because the Board of Selectmen have decided against dogs and for cats.
Steven DeVaux June 08, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Bob, The State Rep, is too busy funding the YMCA construction with the record income tax increase that was passed retroactively last year to deal with overzealous bureaucrats and the Board of Selectmen cower when it comes to state authority instead of standing up for citizens rights.
bob jones June 08, 2012 at 12:38 PM
What would mike vick do?
Lifelong Resident June 08, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I am still dying to know why the Conservation Committee, would even THINK about Happy Landings as a suitable place - absolutely ridiculous. Yet reading above, it seems that it was proposed by Mr. Wolff. You notice how silent the Conservation Committe is? Put the dog park in a location where there won't be residential impact, OR impact on any existing protected open space. I still wondering why no one caught that Lisa spoke about 'dog grass' and adding drainage to clean it once the original grass was decimated by the dogs, and left as only dirt. That, my fellow citizens, is a form of construction... which is NOT in line with permanent protected open space. Want to socialize your dogs? Fine - all walk together on leashes (make them long ones, for the ease of dog 'romping') in the existing spaces - WIlliams Park, Burr Farm, Gurski Meadows, Happy Landings, your neighborhood, your yard... yes, I am a licensed dog owner, and have done just that. That 'park' - even being considered to be placed at Happy Landings is a powder keg. As a place for people to socialize? Well, are you not going to be watching your dog(s) to make sure there is no unwanted aggression, or messes that would need to be disposed of? There are plenty of places to socialize - and now this 'just 1 gated acre' would have benches, etc. more and more being added by the second. Why have no other places (ie Commerce park) been seriously considered? where is the documentation re: that?
mark eason June 08, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Andrew relax a little bit
Steven DeVaux June 08, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Davidson-Lasser-Walker appointed them is how.
Steven DeVaux June 08, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Lifelong resident, All dog owners attending the Friday night concerts should bring their dogs this year! We could make it DogFest 12! It would be a wonderful way for the community to come together! Friends, family, neighbors and pets (semi-family).
mark eason June 09, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Why not just make it a golf course and put the dog park on station rd you can't make that any worse
Bob Zinser June 10, 2012 at 01:27 AM
A dog park. What about a cat park. Or a park where I can bring my chickens? I would love a bird park, but it would have to have multiple sections, as the parakeets can not be in with the parrots. My neighbor has cows. I'm sure he would appreciate a cow park. If you are a dog lover and have a dog, you take care of it. My tax money helped pay for the purchase of Happy Landings. The town should not be in the business of providing an area for dogs to run. What's going to happen when the current group of volunteers are no longer involved? Who will end up paying for it?
Andrew Turkenkopf June 10, 2012 at 08:47 PM
I am relaxed. Please cite what you comment your statement is referring to. Otherwise you seem like a dunce and a buffoon. re: "mark eason 8:56 am on Friday, June 8, 2012 Andrew relax a little bit"
Andrew Turkenkopf June 10, 2012 at 08:54 PM
A cat park would be a great idea. How about a person park too. We need a fenced in place for unleashed humans to socialize and sniff each others butts. But who will clean up after them? I know they don't. The town is in the business of serving the towns residents. Dog parks serve town residents, much like other services. I am not an old person, yet I support the Senior Center. Why should we have a place for old people to hang out. If you love old people, you take care of it. Peace and Love I would suggest that people opposed to this actually offer viable solutions that are better than the current proposed one, but alas, that seems too hard.
Andrew Turkenkopf June 10, 2012 at 08:58 PM
apologies. I mean Please cite what comment your statement is referring to. I erred in including the "you." Now I seem like a dunce, which I am only sometimes. Proofread people. Where is my copy editor. Get Jenkins on the phone!
Andrew Turkenkopf June 11, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Reading more, on the other, older, article, I see Berkshire Corporate park being suggested. Seems like a nugget of a promising idea. But still too little information to form an opinion. I await more news.
Steven DeVaux June 11, 2012 at 12:59 AM
What about Mystery Acres? It would help with the Four Corners revitalization efforts on top of solving the problem of placement. And the town has owned it for years and the town can develop it.
Michelle June 11, 2012 at 04:08 AM
More viable solutions have been suggested quite passionately. Many thanks for Matt Dewketts suggestion of Berkshire Corporate Park. I have given several suggestions of the many unused, vacant properties north of the 4corners. As well as Michael G. had suggested Commerce Park. I agree with Steven DeVaux of the suggestion of the 4corners area. As that area has no real footprint and plan yet. Even as plans develop it will be a plethora of years before there is any real definative development. There are options. Many indeed. Hosting and disturbing a permanently protected historical former farm is not appropriate what so ever. I agree the Conservation Committee has done a disservice to our town and should have to answer to its total lack of conservation in this regard. There are options.
Jane Gallagher June 27, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Its Land! We already bring our dogs there... I bring three dogs there... and they never bother anyone. I also bring my dogs to Kids Kingdom and they are always loved by the kids. Protect land? No one protected our children when they were forced for years to drink Urianium tainted water and you are talking about walking dogs on "land?" Unbelievable. People of Brookfield - you are selfish, mean, critical, unrealistic, self-centered, anti-social and you are really out of touch with reality in this town.

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