Dog Park At Bauer In The Works

Board of Selectmen Monday give the nod to a project that will provide a space for all dogs--big and small--at Bauer Park on the east side of Copse Road, at no cost to the town. Here's how you can get involved or provide donations.


There are many dog owners in town who think Bauer Park is a great place to let their pooches run off leash. The owners might like it, and the dogs might like it, but it's not really allowed.

But town officials and volunteers are working to come up with a dog park where that will be allowed, right across Copse Road from the main part of Bauer Park, said Scot Erskine, director of the Madison Beach & Recreation Department.

Erskine, appearing before the town's Board of Selectmen during a meeting Monday night with Holly Johnson, vice chairman of the Bauer Park Committee, said that the area is now overgrown, but a group of volunteers intend to reclaim it and turn it into a dog park at no cost to the town.

The intention of the group is to raise money through donations and by seeking grants, he said. He said following the meeting that anyone who wants to get involved, and or provide donations, can contact him at 203.245.5623.

He told the board that there currently is a "dog problem" at Bauer Park, which includes about 64 acres of open fields, forest, and wetland on the west side of Copse Road, and about 24 acroes on the east side, north of Hunter's Trail.

"Many dog owners believe it's ok to let their dogs off leash there," he said. "But it's not." He said the recreation department is working to educate dog owners and, working with police, are also enforcing the prohibition against off-leash dogs there. So he said the recreation department is all in favor of a dog park.

He said the current plan is to separate the park into two areas, one area for small dogs, and one area for big dogs and small dogs who like to hang out with big dogs.

Not only will the park be good for the dogs, he said, it also will be good for the dog owners.

"It'll be a way for dog owners to socialize, and for the dogs to run free," he said.

The current plan, which is still being developed, calls for a chain link fence that will be about four to five feet high, he said.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted in favor of endorsing the creation of a park, to be located on the east side of Copse Road, to be developed without using town funds.

Following the meeting, he and Johnson said the ballpark estimate for the cost of such a park is $20,000 to $40,000. They said the range was so large because plans are still being developed. Now that the plan has the endorsement of the selectmen, they said, planning and fundraising can begin in earnest.

Erskine said the Beach & Recreation Commission also has endorsed the creation of a dog park on the east side of Copse Road at Bauer Park.

Lucinda Pinchot November 16, 2012 at 03:36 PM
DOG PARK The designated area is on the east side of Bauer Park there are some ponds there but I don't think they are included in the dog park currently. Since there are classes for school children that use the ponds it may not be a good mix. I believe there is a map at the town campus that shows the plan for the dog park.
Kim R. November 19, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Dog Park Again I confronted an off leash dog owner who told me their dog was o.k. and friendly, I said I didn't care, it wasn't good for my dog to be jumped on. These people just don't get it. And I'm not a gardener so dont call me a ****ing gardener. Keep your dogs on a leash or at your side please. I don't want your loose dog around me. I hope the dog park starts soon.
Carl November 19, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Bauer Dogs saw a dog walker lady with dog off leash, dog pooped, lady picked it up, good lady! then she was talking on her cell phone and the dog pooped again in a vegetable garden, she didn't even see him do it, he could have been half way to New Haven or hit by a car, she was lost in conversation. Now about dog feces pathogens, they DO NOT just biodegrade, they can stick around for a long time in the soil and over winter. So what if the gardens are not growing now, they are no place for dog feces. That is really a safety issue.
Carl November 20, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Dog Park I hope the Board of Selectmen can get the dog park going before someone gets hurt. Saw more dogs off leash and lots of piles of feces, stepped in some. If dogs were on a leash you would know when they pooped. Use the poop bags please.
Debra Santos November 21, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Honestly, the statement that folks want to disregard the ordinance or want the whole park for themselves is inflammatory and a bit unfair. The reason we continue to use the park is simple: athough Madison has ample green space, there is not a single square foot where you can legally unleash your dog. Given that 4 in 10 households owns a dog, there is clearly a very big unmet need in this community. That this practice has collided with the comfort of other park users is undeniable as is the charge that there has been a disregard for responsible control of dogs and for waste pick up. A note to the gentleman who likely penned the above comment under the name 'Ann.' I am the one who asked if you if you had been drinking, because I drove into Bauer to find you sitting in your car alone at 7AM and you aggressively approached me as I got out of my car. You drove erratically away and then drove backwards to return to continue what seemed to be an angry tirade about unleashed dogs. If we are to address these problems, and I think we should, we need to do so in an appropriate setting. Dog owners need to be responsible and work to get an acceptable space, but it is equally important that people do not stalk, harass or fan the flames of discord. We are part of a community, not separate camps of Dog Walkers V. Gardeners and I hope we can find a way to respect and support each other in reaching mutually satisfying outcomes.
Kim R. November 21, 2012 at 01:14 PM
DOG PARK AT CONSTITUTION PARK Why can't we get a dog park at Constitution Park? It's in the construction phase right now, and there is plenty of water for those dog owners who want their dogs to swim. I would like that better than a Bauer dog park. Why does it have to be at Bauer?
Christie Sedaca November 21, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Dog Park At Constitution Park I would love a dog park there. Three acres is enough space to let dogs run, especially if you have them fetch. Is there going to be a beach at Constitution Park? Maybe we could have a small dog beach. When is the next Constitution Park meeting? Does any one know? Who is in charge of making the plans?
Lee Gibson November 23, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I like that folks have begun to think creatively about ways to establish a legal off-leash area for dogs. I don’t know too much constitution park and what it has to offer. However, it seems that a town like Madison with all of its acres and acres of Green Space might be able to devote a bit more than 3 acres to its more than 4000 canines. Dogs behave better in larger, more open areas, as these spaces mitigate against ‘territorial behavior’ – crowding in any species, including humans, is never a good idea. Many dogs become bored quickly in the traditional dog park setting, which tends to be a small, flat, regularly shaped, enclosed space. I have seen perfectly socialized, friendly dogs become either aggressive or entirely cowed and fearful at the entrance of a dog park, because bored, unsupervised dogs are crowding the gate. Many experts think that dogs socialize better when they are walked together in a pack. There are off-leash areas in Connecticut as well as in other places like Maine that I have visited, which are designed to keep dogs and owners moving. Dogs are better behaved and owners get a lot more exercise than they might otherwise standing or sitting in a dog park. From a public health perspective alone, there are huge benefits to rethinking the traditional dog park design.
Lucinda Pinchot November 23, 2012 at 05:05 PM
DOG PARK Thank you Lee for your insight. I love the idea of dogs and their owners walking together, I think it is preferable to small fenced in areas. Some people like those kind of dog parks if they are disabled and can't walk long distances with their pets. I am no expert on what dogs need in the way of socialization or exercise, the ASPCA has two good articles, "Socializing the Adult Dog" and also "Socializing Your Puppy". I was surprised to read that many adult dogs do not enjoy mixing with large groups of other adult dogs, but there is much written on the subject and most of it is not true scientific research, sadly to say. If one includes the whole shoreline there are many thousands of dogs around Madison, a lot of them have yards of their own and good fences etc. Certainly not all of them would use a dog park. Many pet owners keep their dogs on a leash and take long walks daily, that's the catagory I fall into (except when my dog sneaks out and runs into the neighbors yard). The proposed area at Bauer for a fenced in dog park has a beautiful wood land trail around it and a large field where ownerd could walk on leash after the dogs had off leash time in the fenced in area. It may not be perfect for all dogs and owners. It is a solution to a growing series of problems that have had a negative impact on Bauer Park.
Lucinda Pinchot November 23, 2012 at 05:41 PM
As an aside, today I was at Bauer Park and a dog walker was letting his two dogs run through the community gardens. Since he didn't have any dog poop bags in sight I gave him two and said, "please pick up after them especially in the gardens", he said he never let them poop in the park. I don't know how he is in control of them, especially since they were at least 30 yards away, but this is an examople of what I run into everytime I'm at Bauer. Even with an ordinance people don't follow the rules. They make excuses and just do what they want.
Lee Gibson November 23, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Thanks for that perspective. I actually raised a guide dog puppy for Fidelco and ended up doing a fair amount of research around dog behavior during that time and later. There is a growing body of scientific literature around dogs and dog behavior and a number of experts, such as veterinarian Dr. Ian Dunar and Dr. Patricia McConnell, who leverage that research to provide advice to the average dog owner. Dogs are descended from wolves. They are highly social, pack animals. If given an early opportunity as puppies to socialize with other dogs, the great majority will retain that sociability into adulthood. It’s true that there are adult dogs that have limited interest in other dogs, but many of these might have different proclivities if socialized safely, early and regularly. I too have a small breed dog who is shy with limited exercise needs. But I also have a larger breed dog that is highly social and benefits greatly from interaction from other dogs – of the two, he is better balanced, happier and far more typical of the species. Consistent with what most experts say, my backyard, though large and fenced, does not meet my larger dogs exercise and social needs, so there may be a greater need in the community for off-leash areas than we actually are assuming. Also, I'm unsure just how many elderly/disabled folks have active dogs, but I do know that my 70 year old mother benefits more from walking her dog in an open area than she would sitting/standing at a dog park.
Lee Gibson November 23, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Lucinda, I think that we agree on these points. Dog owners should clean up after their dogs. They need to keep them out of the garden at all times and off of adjacent property. Dog owners should have enough control over their dogs to keep them from approaching strangers, particularly children. Unleashed dogs should never approach a leashed dog, who will likely ultimately feel threatened by the encounter.
Lucinda Pinchot November 23, 2012 at 09:56 PM
So true, I agree with everything you said. It is the issue of enforcing the above common sense rules which has led to the strict adherence to the ordinance. Getting dog walkers to just pick up after their dogs at Bauer has been painful for me, having been treated hostilely for the mere suggestion that someone use a dog bag, not to mention your other points. When I kindly ask people to not let their unleashed dogs run up to me or my leashed dog their response 90% of the time is "oh, my dog is harmless" or "he's very friendly" which misses the whole point. I waited a year trying to educate peole at Bauer before I called Animal Control. And it was only after Animal Control got involved that anyone took the issue seriously. Now (as best as can be observed) we are at 20% on leash and 40% using dog bags. And those percentages are when people know they are being watched. Of the unleashed dogs observed only 5% are under true voice command, the others run anywhere and up to anyone. I am totally open to suggestions. I encourage dog owners to support the dog park for those who would use it.
Ann November 23, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Dog PARK What about Rockland Park for a dog trail? I think Fran Fellows rocks! She should be given a medal for all she's done. Only 40 percent use dog bags? yuck! They're free! I love well behaved dogs even unleashed but MOST are not trained. I can't deal with dogs running up to my kid. Screaming at a dog 10 times to come back is not a trained dog.
tysullivan November 25, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Dogs and running Visitor from out of town. I'm a runner. Loose dogs, big problem, groups of loose dogs bigger problem. I ran at the park in question. Four big dogs ran to me, owners out of sight. One had a leash dragging behind it. Saw 3 more dogs in a pond. I carry pepper spray. Recomend it for protection,, dogs and people.
Ann November 25, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Loose Dogs Pepper spray is legal in Ct per the internet. In response to Debra Santos. I am very much a woman and the incident occured over the 4th July and unless your a teenage boy it wasn't me. And I resent all the dog owners who disregard the leash law, and they do act like they want to take over the whole park because that is what they are doing letting their dogs run everywhere, No one is stopping you from walking with your dog on a leash. Your unmet needs can be met other places, or start helping with a dog park.. So if your needs can't be met it is OK to break the law? WOW
tysullivan November 25, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Dogs Running check out the you tube FENTON dog video, does the park have deer? LOL
Lucinda Pinchot November 25, 2012 at 04:07 PM
DOG PARK Lee, I think it was you who suggested having dogs be certified to be off leash at Bauer Park. It came up at one of the Committee meetings. I've mentioned to walkers about having specific times available to dog walkers for off leash walking also. Some problems I forsee have to do with validation of what dogs are actually voice trained/hand signals etc and how to enforce it. If we had specific hours for off leash dogs, there would always be a walker who couldn't come at that time, or as happens now new people would see dogs off leash and expect to be able to be off leash anytime. We only have volunteers at Bauer. I worry that some people whose dogs couldn't follow commands or pass "a test" would just wait and walk them off leash when whoever is in charge has left, that's what happens now. Also, we would have to change the existing ordinance, then get a new ordinance followed to be effective. People either don't read or follow the signs that are posted now. I don't want to sound negative because I really do think Madison needs some kind of off leash area and I agree that a walking area is ideal. I'm not sure that Bauer is the right fit. There must be somewhere in Madison. Are you familiar with Rockland? I know kids go there from the schools. I believe Bluff Head in Guilford has an off leash area but I'm not certain. I think you can walk dogs on water company property with written permission, I'll have to look into this. Let me know if anyone knows.
Lucinda Pinchot November 25, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Dogs and Deer I just watched the suggested video "Fenton". It is quite funny. I have seen deer at Bauer Park, not in that quantity thank goodness.
Lee Gibson November 25, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Hi Lucinda, I appreciate the thoughtful post and creative ideas. I did make the above suggestion a couple of years ago, but didn’t get the opportunity to present a plan to the committee. Off-leash hours have been shown to work in communities across the US, including New York city. Designated hours coincide with less traffic in the park (sunrise to 8AM and 1-2 hours before sunset) and reduce the time that the dog warden would need to patrol. Clear signage could help everyone understand the rules – compliance may increase as we create smart policies to shape behavior rather than just forbidding a practice outright. Another option could be simply a larger area across copse road that is NOT fully enclosed but has just enough fencing to keep dogs away from the road. Any solution will require clear owner education. For Madison, perhaps we would need to have folks sign up for the privilege, agree to the terms, pay yearly dues and commit to service hours/clean up. I do worry that a conventional dog park design will not necessarily solve the current problem – it may not get used or it may get used by the different residents and do nothing to reign in some of the practices that many of us would like to change at Bauer.
Lucinda Pinchot November 25, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Dog Park I was at Bluff Head today in North Guilford, it is an area owned by the Guilford Land Trust, which includes a large hay field (8 acres?)that has no signs saying dogs need to be leashed, only a sign saying that dogs need to be "in control". It is a beautiful place to walk a dog or to have them fetch etc. It's not 2 minutes from downtown Madison but it was worth the drive..
Carl November 27, 2012 at 01:02 PM
NO DOGs at BAUER Bluff Head has a gradual incline and a very steep incline, I take the gradual incline, many dogs off leash but are well trained. Happened to drive by Bauer a number of time over the long weekend. Many dogs off leash and in the gardens. Stupid dog owners. I'm starting to favor NO DOGS on OR off leash. The stupid owners have ruined it for the trained ones and the trained ones have encouraged the stupid ones by showing them its OK by setting an example. As Ann said, can't fix stupid, but you can ticket stupid. Maybe the animal control lady should set up permanent shop there.
Kim R. November 27, 2012 at 07:53 PM
DOG PARK I agree that it is a safety issue. When there are children and especially such a wide open space, dogs spot people and animals from a long distance and run to them, this happened to me twice this weekend at Bauer, the dogs just bolted from across the field when they saw me and ran to me. I had no way of knowing if it was nice or not and the owners were not in control, calling them back did not work. One dog had a leash dragging behind him, as if that did any good. I'm thinking about a kind of protective spray are there any specific for dogs?
Christie Sedaca November 28, 2012 at 01:27 PM
DOG Park, my neighbor said Constitution park won't have a dog park. I like Bluff Head, lot of space for dogs and no classes or events going on. I would never spray a dog with pepper spray but I've seen people carry sticks, some mailmen do that. A dog park is different from open space for dogs to run but it is better than nothing. I support a dog park at Bauer maybe they can find an off-leash solutionsomewhere else. With classes and people doing all different projects at the park it seems inappropriate to let dogs off leash, IMO.
Lee Gibson November 30, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Bluff Head looks like a nice spot - I'll have to check it out over the weekend. Certainly good for those Sunday afternoons when you have the luxury of time to travel over to the next town and north. Not as much of an option for the daily weekday walk for those of us who are over-employed. Bauer can get crowded during the warmer months. However, that's true of all of the parks across the US that have adopted off-leash hours. Central Park, for example, has lots of activity, so there are off-leash hours in the early morning and later in the evening, when it is underused. There are not a lot of folks using the parks at 6:30 AM in December - that's true for Bauer as well.
Lucinda Pinchot December 06, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Dog Park Thank you Lee for you thoughtful and thorough presentation last evening. It's important to have a dialog going.
Ann January 25, 2013 at 06:45 PM
I heard through the grapevine that Rockland Park is willing to have a large off leash dog area. Why can't the town get the off leash dogs out of Bauer Park? These dog owners are breaking the law and have no problems with infringing on other's rights. I've given up walking my dog there because all the off leash dogs run up to me etc. It is the same old story and will only get worse when the weather warms up. Carl how do you feel about this?
Christie Sedaca January 25, 2013 at 07:02 PM
Hi Ann, Christie here. Rockland is a perfect place. Who is in charge there, is it Parks and Rec? Bauer is a free for all with dogs and dog poo all over. It is a disgusting shame and I'm fed up with the town doing nothing about it. What about the kids who take classes there, don't they have a say? Why isn't the dog police person there? I don't think I'll even have a garden there this year, my husband it so sick of seeing dog poo all over. We were away for 3 months, and it looks as if nothing has been done about a dog park. I like Bluff head and would like to see dogs allowed off leash at Rockland.
Jason Harris January 25, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Small towns, it's who you know. If I were running a stop sign repeatedly I'd get a ticket. The Bauer off leash dog walkers get away with it daily because they know someone or the town really doesn't give a hoot. Wait until someone gets hurt and the town has to answer for years of people complaining and the town doing nothing. The complaints are DOCUMENTED and can be taken to court. These people will complain that Rockland is too far to drive, give me a freakin break, they are spoild brats.
Carl January 26, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Well Ann, Rockland does seem more appropriate as it is bigger and does not have all the other activities Bauer Park has. I don't think people with dogs understand all the classes that go on at Bauer Park even in the winter. Most dog owners don't understand the bacteria in dog doo that is not killed by a freeze or wintering over. It is very unhealthy to have that bacteria in a vegetable garden or where children are playing. Even dogs on leashes who are allowed to defecate in or near the gardens are a health risk. Not to mention the ones running all over. Take it up with City Hall, they own the park and are responsible for what happens there.


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