Dogs in Hubbard Park Subcommittee
We're seeking 4 volunteers for a subcommittee on dogs in Hubbard Park:
In alignment with the Hubbard and North Branch River Park 10-Year Management Plan, the Parks Commission strives to ensure the parks are welcoming for people of varying comfort levels and abilities and to make these spaces forever available for the enjoyment of all. This proposal outlines a strategy to reach a more sustainable compromise around dogs in Hubbard Park, specifically, that will help us achieve this goal by forming a group of community volunteers who will conduct further research as necessary and make recommendations for a new Canine Code of Conduct.
Montpelier has a robust and enthusiastic community of dog owners. For many, walking in Hubbard is a daily routine centered on taking advantage of the current off-leash policy, a coveted privilege that facilitates the exercise, socializing, and overall well-being of both owners and their dogs. The Parks Commission understands that maintaining this privilege is very important to our local dog-walker community and is essential to meeting the needs of park users.
At the same time, the recent community outreach relating to the Management Plan has highlighted the concerns of other current and potential park users who feel uncomfortable or do not visit the parks due to the presence of off leash dogs. We know from previous experience and from the 2017 advisory vote regarding leashing dogs in Hubbard Park that this issue divides our city.
Accordingly, it is the intent of the Parks Commission to identify and designate areas and/or trails of Hubbard Park where dogs are on-leash. We are seeking 4 volunteers to serve on a committee that will craft a solution to this issue. Please see the Dogs in Hubbard Park Committee Implementation Plan, which was approved by the Parks Commission on 3/21/23 for a full outline of the changes proposed and the mandate of the committee.
The Committee will be comprised of four Montpelier residents selected by two members of the Parks Commission. Two committee members will advocate for off-leash dog experiences and two will advocate for on-leash dog experiences. One Parks Commissioner will act as facilitator. One Parks staff member will act as staff liaison. Neither the Commissioner nor staff member will vote on recommendations.
The Committee will be selected on Wednesday, 4/12. If possible the Committee will convene in advance of the April 18th Parks Commission meeting and share any discussions, plans, or research with the Parks Commission at that meeting.
Following the April 18th meeting, the Committee will conduct a 3-month analysis on dogs in Hubbard Park, with a focus on identifying areas and/or trails where dogs will be on-leash.
The analysis may consider:
- Which areas and/or trails where dogs will be on-leash, with consideration given to a contiguous on-leash space and/or loop that starts at a parking area.
- If the committee recommends times of day when dogs may be off-leash on these areas and/or trails, they will balance the need for:
- Off-leash hours that are easy to interpret and enforce from a Park Staff perspective.
- On-leash hours that are easy to identify by the community, and occur consistently during the park's open hours.
- Example: Dogs are allowed off leash in xx area every day from park opening until xx AM, at which time all dogs must be leashed in these areas.
- Recommendations may include changes to dog leashing policy on other park lands, with consideration to conservation easements or other restrictions.
The Committee will closely consider their findings and agree on a preferred solution based on group consensus.
The Committee will make recommendations on or before the July Parks Commission meeting, present their research and several alternative solutions and explain the rationale and implementation plan behind their preferred solutions and implementation plan.
Lastly, the committee will support the implementation of the new Hubbard Park Canine Code of Conduct by assisting the community, the Parks Commission, and Parks Staff with outreach and launch, anticipated to be the Fall of 2023.
Questions? Please reach out to Parks Director Alec Ellsworth at email@example.com