BETHEL — The Board of Selectmen decided Monday night to table further discussion on the Bethel dog park, including approval of the terms and conditions, until its next meeting.
Town Manager Jim Doar explained to the public that one of the concerns selectmen had was “we shouldn't be asking the people to vote without knowing what the terms and conditions for the dog park will be.”
“I wrote a memo outlining six terms and conditions that I thought were reasonable, but were not meant to be inclusive, or the final say,” Doar said. “It's just my brainstorm, and I hope it generates some discussion.”
Tentative terms and conditions for the Bethel Dog Park Committee included the following:
* Demonstrate sufficient funds to complete construction.
* Place funds in escrow to cover dismantling the park if maintenance conditions are not met in a timely fashion.
* Police the park daily to assure dog waste is cleaned up by their owners.
* Report immediately any deviation in construction plans, dictated by conditions on the ground, as it's being built.
* Submit a satisfactory plan on which selectmen will determine whether winter use will be permitted. At no time shall such use interfere with snowmobile trails or require snow removal by the Bethel Public Works.
* Failure to comply with any conditions will result in revocation of selectmen's approval and dismantling the park, using the funds placed in escrow.
Doar explained that in terms of people using the dog park in the winter, he was thinking that “if we had a winter like last year, where there was no snow into December, I know that there'd be no problem in using the dog park.”
After Doar's presentation, Bethel Dog Park agent Steve Wight of Newry handed out a list of rules, titled "Bethel Dog Park Etiquette." They included:
* Never leave a dog unattended.
* Don't bring more than three dogs to the park.
* Make sure dogs are more than four months old and fully vaccinated.
* Don't bring any food into the park.
Selectman Peter Southam said he found Doar's suggestions “covered everything pretty well.”
Selectman Pat Carter said Doar's terms and conditions and Wight's rules “pretty much covers it all.”
Wight explained that in order to make sure the rules are enforced, “There will be a sign. The park would be set up so there's one side for small dogs and one for big dogs, and a vestibule to unleash your dog and let it into the park.”
Some concerns were brought before the board by Edie Okenquist, a member of the Greenstock Snowsports Snowmobile Club in Newry. He said the club's budget this year would not be enough to cover the cost of moving the snowmobile trail to make room for the dog park.
“Up until these past years I've done the grant, our expenses are close to $65,000 a year to maintain 100 miles of trails in this town and the surrounding five towns, he said. “The thing is, with this year being only $24,000 that we get, there's a big deficit that we have to make up with a lot of volunteer help, a lot of contributions, garage sales and Christmas tree sales.”
Okenquist said ultimately, the club wondered if it would be strapped with moving the trail and the maintenance that would come as a result of that.
Wight said selectmen initially asked him and the committee if they could “do the due diligence if we had to move the trail. We said right from the get-go that we would rebuild the new trail.”'
He said money put aside to build the dog park includes money to relocate the snowmobile trail.
The board decided to have Doar amend the referendum question to clarify for residents that they would be voting whether or not to build a dog park at Davis Park, and that the cost of constructing the park would not come from taxpayer funds.
Selectman Don Bennett reminded the board that “inevitably, at some point, the town will wind up with some little piece of this, so it's tough to say.”
Doar agreed, citing the town's skate park as “the perfect example” of what the dog park will have to go through.
“We do very little maintenance, but every year I have Public Works put up that snow fence to keep out snowmobiles,” Doar said. “There are things that will happen at the dog park. I don't envision Public Works taking on a major role, but to Don's point, anything on town land will have us somehow involved.”
The board will decide the final wording of the ballot question and whether or not to approve the terms and conditions during its meeting April 15. The annual town meeting is scheduled for June 12.