The Cambridge Chronicle published my
editorials against the dog fences.
Hopefully, now (2013), that the dog
fences are removed, dog use of Fort Washington
will be in balance, with protective turf
regeneration, and the Earthworks will be
owners trump history
Andrews / Chronicle Staff
Thursday, January 12, 2006
the wrought-iron fence surrounding Fort
Washington Park doesn't quite reach the
ground, dogs have been known to escape the
grassy patch in Cambridgeport, one of three
Cambridge parks where dogs are allowed
Street resident Debbie Karlan has seen dogs
squeeze through the fence to chase trains down
the nearby railroad track and follow the paths
of balls and children.
It's scary, she said at a public hearing last
Thursday. Yes, Cambridge has a dog park, but
it's not quite safe.
however, dog owners who use Fort Washington
Park can rest a little easier. Last week, the
Historical Commission approved the temporary
installation of a 40-inch-high chain-link
fence which will abut the existing fence and
keep pooches caged in.
will reach the ground around the perimeter and
cover the five entrances to the park that are
now open. Three of those will have a gate. The
fence is expected to cost about $4,000,
according to Greg Garber of the Parks and
Urban Forestry Division.
approval came with a catch. Because the
proposed fence, which will not be attached to
the existing fence, contrasts with the park's
historical design, the city has five years or
less to come up with a more harmonic
that this is a politically desirous thing for
the city to do ... but I am also a little
troubled by the micromesh fence, said William
King, the commission's chairman, who added
that the project should be done right.
members supported the temporary solution in a
6-1 vote, saying it was important to meet the
needs of dogs and their owners.
life is not very long, said commission member
Jo Solet. And if we put off putting up the
fence, it really is a sacrifice for the dogs
and the people [who own them].
contentious issue, off-leash dog areas have
received much attention from city officials
and politicians this year. Fort Washington is
one of only three spaces in the city where
dogs can freely frolic, along with an area on
the northwest edge of Danehy Park and a
section of the Fresh Pond Reservation.
than 10 years, dog owners have lobbied for
more of these spaces. Letting a dog off leash
in undesignated areas can net flouters of the
law a fine, although many say they do it
anyway for lack of sanctioned parks.
report, which recommended further study of the
Fort Washington fence, also listed 82 Pacific
St. as having off-leash potential. The study,
however, which had been commissioned in 2003,
was criticized by some for not making enough
Councilor Brian Murphy chaired the Public
Facilities Committee last term, and has asked
City Manager Bob Healy to look into more space
for dog parks during the upcoming budget
the Cambridge Dog Owners Group stopped short
of calling last weeks decision a victory,
saying that dog parks in Cambridge still have
a long way to go.
Fairman of West Cambridge said dog owners were
a tremendously under-served population. And
she said CDOG continues to worry about
off-leash rights in other parks.
deeply concerned about access being threatened
in other areas, she said, referring
specifically to the Fresh Pond Reservation
where she said the dog area has been made
members said they were pleased with the
commissions swift ruling on Fort Washington
currently has 2,133 licensed dogs living in
the city, according to the Animal Commission.
Licensing a dog costs $5 per year for spayed
pups and $15 for those not spayed.
Catherine Fabio said dog owners might be
willing to face an increase in these fees in
order to help fund more off-leash areas in the
The fence at
Fort Washington faced the Historic
Commission's hurdle because it is a landmark.
The park was created in 1774 (error=
11/1775) by George
Washington as a fort during the Siege of
Boston. In 1858, the property was donated to
the city, provided it be fenced in and
wrought-iron fence was last restored between
1978 and 1993, according to Sarah Burks of the
Historic Commission. Off-leash use was
approved for the park in 1994. Contact Sarah
Andrews at sandrews