JAY — Selectmen on Monday gave permission to the Tri-Town Dog Club to stake out some of the town’s property behind Jay Plaza to see if it would work as a dog park.

The group is interested in leasing property to build a fenced-in, off-leash park
There would be no cost to the town and they were not looking for any town money, said Dan Smiley, a spokesman for the newly organized club. The group would raise its own money and volunteers would oversee it. It would cost $10,000 or less to build the park, Smiley said.

He said he had been contacted by Jonathan LaBonte of the Androscoggin Land Trust about possible land options.

The town property is beyond the railroad bed used by all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.
The town had previously wanted to use land behind the plaza to develop an industrial park, but the property was too wet in most places.
According to the club’s information packet, two lots there would equal about 6 acres and would provide enough room for a park and adequate parking.
There is no dog park in Western Maine and only five in the state, Smiley said, with the closest one in Portland. The others are located in tourist towns such as Kennebunkport, Bar Harbor and Belfast, he said.
Smiley believes that if his group builds the dog park, people would come with their dogs from surrounding areas and beyond to use it. Plus, it would draw people who were traveling to tourist areas in the region to stop and exercise their dogs, he said.
“Right now, unless they need gas, what’s there to make them stop?” Smiley said.
There are more than 3,000 registered dogs in Jay and nearby towns, he said.
“I think it is an outstanding idea,” Selectman Steve Barker said.
Town Manager Ruth Marden said she checked with the town’s insurance company and found that the property would be treated like any other park in town. It would cost about $50 to add it to the town’s policy, she said.
But, as with any dog park, rules would have to be posted and enforced, Marden said.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve McCourt asked who would enforce the rules. Under the law, Smiley said, municipalities can’t be held liable for those types of facilities and there would be rules of behavior posted.
“My experience is, people who come to these types of park are pretty responsible,” Smiley said.

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