SWAMPSCOTT — The town is getting a little more pet friendly after the Board of Selectmen opted to authorize the creation of a dog park.
The board voted last week to authorize a dog park on a large, unused piece of land adjacent to the DPW (Department of Public Works) Annex and located behind the Swampscott Cemetery, according to Peter Spellios, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
In a three-square mile town, Spellios said there’s not a lot of open space to secure an area for an off-leash park, but the selected location allows for a roughly 20,000 square-foot enclosed area.
“It’s an opportunity to bring, in this constrained town with very little open space, into use a parcel of land that otherwise, most likely in the near future would not be made available for public use,” Spellios said.
Spellios said a dog park had been identified as a priority in the town’s Master Plan and the Open Space & Recreation Plan. He said it will allow for increased socialization for dogs and people.
In addition, he said park’s creation will be at a relatively low cost — Swampscott Park for Off-Leash Time (SPOT), the group that has worked and fundraised for about a decade to make the project a reality, has agreed to incur all the costs of fencing.
Spellios said the vote to allow for the implementation of a dog park comes on the heels of a renewed discussion in town about the amount of unleashed dogs on fields and dog waste. At Town Meeting, a group of Girl Scouts from Swampscott showed a short film about the problem at parks and different schools in town.
Laura Spathanas, a member of the Board of Selectmen, said she was glad to see plans for the dog park moving forward, but was concerned about people driving through the cemetery to access parking, and increased traffic while people were there visiting loved ones.
Spellios said the last time a dog park in town was discussed was in 2014 when the Board of Selectmen voted and then un-voted a possible location in Phillips Park.
“(It’s) long overdue, but a dog park is coming to Swampscott,” Spellios wrote in a Facebook post. “Thank you SPOT — Swampscott Park for Off-Leash Time for your neverending efforts to make this a reality.”