By Natalie Mack, news editor
A new addition to Nantucket, which arrived in December of 2021, was a fenced-in dog park at 5 Miacomet Rd, just off of Surfside Road. Having an animal shelter, a Land to Sea rescue program, and beautiful walking areas on the island, almost every Nantucket resident has at least one dog. The idea of constructing a dog park for Nantucket first came up from a study and report done back in 2014 by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) students, surveying community interest in a dog park. The Land Bank, as a result, added it to their list of projects they wanted to accomplish. Shortly after, Kristina Jelleme, who is known to be passionate about rescuing and fostering dogs, was elected Commission.
Executive director of Nantucket Land Bank, Jesse A. Bell explains that they requested proposals for design services from architectural firms that specialize in dog parks. They ended up selecting a group called Berkshire Design Group. This group has designed over a dozen other dog parks in the state. Once they chose the company, it was time to decide a location on the island where they could begin construction. Bell explained that they chose the location: on the corner of Miacomet and Surfside, because, “…the property is centrally located and easily accessible being situated on a major public road with a bike path. Further, it is surrounded by mixed development (both residential and commercial) and we thought there would be enough ambient noise in the area to drown out any noise generated by a dog park.”. The Nantucket Land Bank put together a committee for this project which included representatives from Nantucket Island Safe Harbor for Animals and Offshore Animal Hospital. They worked with the other committee members as well as the architects working on the design. In time, the committee made a recommendation to the Land Bank Commission, and the Commission approved the location.
The dog park is set up with two different fences in areas. The larger fenced area is for larger dogs and the smaller area is for smaller dogs. This allows similar-sized dogs to be able to play with each other, without fear of differences in sizes causing injuries. Both areas are lined with grass and have a small concrete walkway for owners to stand on instead of the grass as well as a couple of benches. Both areas have several trees as well.
Since its opening in December, the park has been very well used. Bell reflects on the dog park thus far stating that “I can tell you that for us at the Land Bank, with everything we put into these projects, there is no greater reward than seeing people enjoy them.” It is clear that people are certainly putting the Land Banks’ hard work to use. Nantucket resident and dog owner Betsy Lynch explained that “the dog park has been really fun so far! Our dog, Lady, loves to socialize with other dogs and she is guaranteed to meet some friends. Especially other Nantucket Island Safe Harbor for Animals dogs, which is wonderful! It’s also convenient for when you don’t have time to go for a long walk and just want to quickly tire them out.”
In addition to her dog’s benefit, Lynch also reflected that this new addition to Nantucket has had a positive effect on the island community as a whole: “Another added benefit is meeting other dog owners and getting to safely socialize outdoors especially after being so isolated during the pandemic. Everyone has been so friendly and seems really happy to finally have this dog-friendly space. I’m thankful to the Land Bank for providing this in our community.”
It can be inferred that other dog owners feel the same way, and the dog park will continue to be a hit on the island as it is benefiting both humans and dogs. Bell reflects on the significance of having a dog park in our community explaining that, “having fenced-in areas where dogs can run free, play, and exercise with other dogs off-leash alleviates worry for people who know their dogs have the propensity to run away. These enclosed areas are also helpful for people who struggle with mobility issues and have dogs that need exercise.”
In closing, the long-awaited dog park on Nantucket is up and running, is being very widely used by the Nantucket community thanks to the hard work of the Land Bank. It seems this park will continue to be widely used by dog owners for many years to come.