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Bedford to hold hearing on future of potential dog park

BEDFORD - The Bedford Town Council will hold a public hearing Wednesday to discuss a petitioned warrant article for a town dog park.

The Friends of Canine Corner received approval in January 2012 from the council to use an 80-foot-by-200-foot parcel of town land on Nashua Road for a dog park. But the two sides could not reach an agreement on who would be responsible for the park's ongoing maintenance.

In September, the council met with representatives from the Friends of Canine Corner, and asked the group to enter into a lease agreement with the town.

The Friends of Canine Corner refused, as it did not want to take on any personal liability for the park, said Fred Hurwitz, chairman of the organization.

"It always was a town initiative," he said. "I don't know how it morphed into this."

Town Council Chairman Bill Dermody, speaking on his own behalf, said he had always thought the Friends of Canine Corner would maintain the park.

"It's always been my understanding that the dog park wouldn't cost the taxpayers any money," he said. "Who pays for future expenses was never really decided."

Dermody said residents must vote to determine if taxpayer dollars should be used for maintaining the park.

"This is a want, not a need," Dermody said. "I'm really not inclined to go that route, but we'll see what the people have to say."

Hurwitz, who submitted the petition, said that all funding for and maintenance of the park will come from donations.

"We're not asking the town to fund the dog park," he said. "We would act as an instrument for raising funds in the community, which would be donated to the town."

Hurwitz said if voters approve the park, construction won't occur until the group raises the $64,000 necessary to implement the group's plans.

Yearly maintenance of the park will be about $3,000, he said.

According to Hurwitz, the park will act as a community gathering space for the 46 percent of Bedford residents who own dogs.

"The dog park isn't about dogs so much as it is people," he said. "It's a way for people to get together who have a common interest."

Dermody encouraged residents to attend the hearing.

"I'd like to hear from more than just the people who signed the petition," he said. "It would be helpful to the council to hear from other taxpayers."

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