Stocker Street neighbors don’t want to see a dog park next door at Stocker Field
Sharon Floramo said she’s miffed that town officials would like to see a dog park near her home. But she seems to be even more angry that no town officials have reached out to her and, apparently, the residents in her small neighborhood overlooking the rundown Stocker Field and adjoining area.
“I want to know why they want to put a dog park behind my home,” Floramo said when she got her chance to speak at the lectern in the Community Room of the Saugus Public Library on Monday night (March 13).
“I requested a meeting with the town, but they denied it,” Floramo said, emphasizing how she believes that officials have kept her and a handful of other Stocker Street residents in the dark on possible future plans to build a dog park in the area off Winter Street which encompasses the baseball field and playground nestled near a stretch of the Saugus River that runs through Precinct 3.
Floramo was one of three Stocker Street residents who shared their concerns during the latest forum of “Saugus Over Coffee,” which focused on Precinct 3.
Precinct 4 will be the focus of the next forum, which is scheduled for Tuesday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Saugus Public Library.
The forums, which began in January, will be filmed for viewing on SaugusTV through October, as the Town Meeting members from each of the town’s 10 precincts will get a chance to talk about what they consider to be the top issues in their respective precincts. After Town Meeting members share their views on top precinct issues and things that make their precinct special, residents will have a chance to speak their minds.
At last Monday’s forum, Kim Calla, another Stocker Street resident, called the proposed Stocker Dog park “our top issue.” “We don’t want to see a dog park. We want to preserve the wildlife. We want to preserve that river because it’s absolutely beautiful,” Calla said.
“We just want to know if the town has done all its research. I know it’s not a done deal, but we want to know that we are included in all of the decision-making,” she said.
Calla, who has lived in her Precinct 3 home for about 30 years, said she is concerned about media reports that quoted officials as saying a dog park would only affect two abutters. “It affects all of us. If you care about the river and the wildlife, it affects all of us,” she said.
Precinct 3 Town Meeting Member Annemarie Tesora, the lone Town Meeting member of five to attend the forum, said in an interview last week that her top priority is seeing a dog park created at Stocker Field. “We started talking with the state because a lot of people were already using that space to bring their dogs,” she said.
Calla said it is unfortunate that “everyone thinks it’s a dog park.”
“There’s dog waste all over the place. It’s disgusting. But the park has been disgusting,” Calla said.
“The town never cleaned up or put any effort or time into the playground. All of a sudden, because it gives a purpose, now there’s attention down there, and none of us were notified. And we should have been invited to the meetings as abutters,” she said.
Tesora said she believes a public notice was given when the town’s dog committee initiated by Selectman Jeffrey Cicolini held a few meetings.
Michelle Raponi, a lifelong Saugus resident who also lives on Stocker Street, said she supports the concept of a dog park – but not at Stocker Field. “I think a dog park is great,” Raponi said.
“But wild and domestic do not mix,” she added, referring to the challenges of converting a wildlife area into a dog park.
Floramo said she and other residents of Stocker Street have safety concerns that a potential dog park would create. People and their dogs that live in the area face the threat of being attacked by other dogs visiting the park, Floramo said.
“My neighbors are concerned about the safety of the neighborhood,” Floramo said.
“We have senior citizens there, and we have a senior medical home next door to me. People like to sit out in their chairs in the driveway on a summer day. I like to sit out in the yard in the summertime,” she said.
“And we’re going to have dogs coming from all sides of us that could come up to us,” she said.
Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Debra Panetta confirmed that Selectman Cicolini created a committee to look into having a dog park. “He did look at Stocker Park and he did think it would be a good idea,” Panetta said.
“There’s nothing set in stone,” Panetta said, reassuring the Stocker Street residents that no decision has been made about making Stocker Field a dog park. “I’m sure they’re going to have public discussion,” she added.
“Selectman Cicolini is very transparent,” Panetta added.
Tesora tried to reassure her constituents that “a lot of research is involved in applying for the grant” that would essentially be a starting point for any dog park site.