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Since the mid-1990's a number of citizens, Aldermen, and city employees have been interested in exploring opportunities to establish legal off-leash areas in Newton. In December 2003 a Public Hearing was held to begin public discussion. In February 2005 the Board of Aldermen voted to establish a task force to study the issue. The task force was appointed by the President of the Board of Aldermen and has been meeting since May 2005. NewtonDogs is a citizen group formed in 2003 to advocate for this issue but was not given a seat on the task force.
The following is an outline of city actions undertaken since 2003.
Dec 3, 2003 On December 3, 2003 the Board of Aldermen's Programs & Services Committee held a Public Hearing on establishing designated off-leash areas. Approximately 150 citizens were in
. The Hearing opened with guest speakers from four communities with legal off-leash areas who had been invited to speak at the hearing about their programs:
* Sue Webb, Animal Control Officer for the Town of Wellesley
* Robert Lynch, Director, Brookline Recreation Department
* Nancy O’Connor, Vice Chair, Brookline Recreation Commission
* Jean Rogers, Chief Ranger, City of Cambridge
* Becky Siebens, Operations Manager, Trustees of Reservations
Following the guest speakers, residents were invited to speak. Many residents spoke about the need for the city to provide legal off-leash areas for residents. Unfortunately, the tape recorder was broken and no records were kept of who spoke at the hearing. The hearing
at about 11:30. Only three residents spoke in opposition, and both of them expressed concern about unattended dogs off-leash on neighborhood streets, not in designated areas. 2004
The Programs and Services Committee discussed the possibility of establishing off-leash areas at two of their bi-monthly meetings during the spring of 2004. Support for establishing off-leash areas was mixed and positions on the issue were very strong on both sides. Below are links to
of the meetings and information in the position of the Aldermen that were present.: ALL>> February 2004>> April 2004>>
January 5, 2005
The Aldermen's Programs and Services committee discussed the establishing an off-leash task force at length. To read a summary of the meeting with comments from the aldermen <<click here>>.
January 19, 2005
The Aldermen's Programs and Services committee PASSED the proposal to create a task-force to explore possible times and locations for off-leash activity.
There were only four aldermen present at the meeting (but that was all that was needed for a quorum).
* Marcia Johnson (ward 2)
* Ted Hess-Mahan (ward 3)
* Amy Sangiolo (ward 4)
* Lisle Baker (ward 7)
The Aldermen debated the issue for about 1 hour.
Johnson, Hess-Mahan, and Sangiolo voted in favor of the task-force, Baker abstained.
February 2005 - Task Force creation
Full Board of Alderman vote to establish Task Force. February 7 >> February 22 >>
Read text of the Task Force Resolution >>
April 2005 - Task force formation
Board of Aldermen president Lysle Baker appointed members to the Off-leash task force. Unfortunately, rather than appointing individuals that had been actively working on this issue for the past ten years, he selected individuals who had been minimually involved and were not know for any particular opinion on the issue.
Members of the task force are:
Susan Albright (Alderman)
Mitch Fischman (Aldeman)
Fran Rice (Park and Recreation)
Norm Richardson (Conservation Commission)
Amy Kohl (citizen, ward 1/2)
Paula Palumbo (citizen, ward 3/4)
Leslie MacGregor (citizen, ward 5/6)
Dick Tucker (citizen, ward 5/6)
John O'Connoll, Animal Control Officer
May 2005 - Present - Task force meetings
See unofficial summarys of task force meetings. Official minutes are available at: All >> May 2005 >> June 2005 >> July 2005 >> September 2005 >> October 2005 >> January 2006 >> February 2006 >> March 2006 >> April 2006 >>