Parks Officials Plan Improvements To Grounds at Spencer’s Run Dog Park in Waveny

Parks officials may try fencing off portions of Waveny’s dog run this spring and then again in the fall in order to re-grade the area so it’s safer for all the mammals who go there.

The root systems of trees that used to stand in what is now Spencer’s Run have rotted underground, creating bumps and divots in the popular dog park that appear flat after mowing, according to Kit Devereaux, a regular park user (with her white poodle, named ‘Louis Armstrong’).

So when the grass grows over those areas “it creates sort of a trap, and so they [a committee of volunteer liaisons between Spencer’s Run and the town] would like to have half of it re-graded and then other half re-graded,” Devereaux told members of the Park & Recreation Commission Wednesday night at their regular meeting, held at Lapham Community Center.

If New Canaan’s parks superintendent deems it a worthwhile project, half of Spencer’s Run could be cordoned off and re-graded now through June, and then the full park would be available to paying users through the summer, with the second half addressed in the fall, Devereaux said.

Asked whether there are any concerns about the remaining space being too small for visitors (there are some 480 registered users of Spencer’s Run, two-thirds of them nonresidents who pay higher fees), Recreation Director Steve Benko said that the area being looked at now “still has a decent amount of grass.”

“So he [the parks superintendent] can go in, he can aerate it, he can over-seed it, he can get the grass to grow fast. The one thing we don’t have is irrigation up there so we rely on Mother Nature for the water. So if you can get the grass to take root, then you can open up soon. The upper area is where it’s just worn out from overuse so that is going to take a little longer.”

Other developments at Spencer’s Run include a recommendation from New Canaan Police Department Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm to hold classes for dog owners about their animals’ behavior once a month or so.

Park & Rec Chairman Sally Campbell said new registrants for Spencer’s Run also may get an info sheet soon that helps them understand the way other people’s dogs may behave when introducing their own in the enclosed area.

“There’s a big issue introducing a new dog into the park, there’s a whole alpha thing going on, and where she [Halm] gets her most complaints are when new puppies come in,” Campbell said. “When a new puppy comes in, they are all on the pup, so people are thinking their dogs is being attacked. And the new dog warden said, ‘No, they will sort it out, there has never been an incident where blood has been drawn, that is just how dogs work.’ ”

Commissioners asked who will fund the repairs (they’re paid for out a fund generated by membership fees), how classes would be run (they’d be held in Waveny but not in the dog park, since it’s too much of a distraction) and what will be the Spencer’s Run members’ concerns about cordoning off half the space (not clear though they feel it’s dangerous as-is).

Benko said the lock on a key-code system introduced a few years at Spencer’s Run—a system that forces users to register with the town and pay to use the dog park—broke recently and will be replaced by next week.

Commissioner Jason Milligan asked how the new system has worked overall and Benko replied “great.”

“Ninety percent of the problems had have gone away—the biting, people fighting, the dog fighting, all gone away. The codes have worked very well. People have become owners of the dog park so it is working well.”

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