Portsmouth Middle School land eyed for dog park

The town is considering the establishment of an off-leash dog park, similar to one pictured here in Barrington. The town is considering the establishment of an off-leash dog park, similar to one pictured here in Barrington.

The town is considering the establishment of an off-leash dog park, similar to one pictured here in Barrington.

The town is considering the establishment of an off-leash dog park, similar to one pictured here in Barrington.

PORTSMOUTH — Four-legged friends could be socializing next to Portsmouth Middle School if a group planning a town dog park gets its way.

Bunny Miller, who leads the Dog Park Planning Committee established by the Town Council in June, told the School Committee Tuesday night that her group would like to use property north of the school on Jepson Lane. If approved, the fenced, off-leash dog park would be located just north of a school leaching field.

The group wanted to hear what the School Committee had to say, Ms. Miller said, because it will be presenting several possible sites to the Town Council at its meeting Monday night, Oct. 28.

“The land will not be altered in any way,” said Ms. Miller, adding that no children under 16 would be allowed in the park, and dogs would be leashed until they’re inside. “Dog parks are traditionally open only from dawn to dusk, with no exterior lighting. There’s not a lot of noise in a dog park.”

Committee Chairman David Croston said there are no zoning issues involved and that it’s entirely up to the school board to decide whether to allow the land to be used for the dog park. One question, he said, is whether the school district can enter into a lease with a third-party organization.

He also had reservations because of abutters to the property. “I have issues with the impact it has on our neighbors,” said Mr. Croston, who advised Ms. Miller’s group to reach out to those homeowners before it came back to the committee.

The chairman also said Glen Park would be an ideal place for dog park. “There is so much land at Glen Park that is open,” he said.

Ms. Miller said the group may face opposition if it targets Glen Park. In addition, she believes many dog owners in town wouldn’t travel that far.

Committee member Andrew Kelly said the middle school is also “awfully far for people who live in the north end of town.”

Responded Heather Rhodes, the dog park panel’s treasurer, “Whose dog doesn’t love to go for a car ride?”

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