Dock Diving, Anybody?


The pond at Great Hill is shallow (especially right now, thanks to the drought), but a dock diving feature only requires 4″ of water! I have two ideas about where to add one, though the possibilities are endless. Docks are easy to construct. The one above is a floating dock – I watched my grandfather build a huge one when I was about 4. Then again, I watched my grandfather cut logs for firewood with a rip saw and an axe. He made it look effortless… Best. Dog park. Ever.


Dog Parks & Property Value


You bet it could.

Dog Parks Growing in Popularity Nationwide

Parks and Recreation

Dog parks are the hottest thing happening in this country right now, and the evidence of that could not be any clearer right here in MetroWest, Massachusetts.

All communities with dog park plans in process. Chelmsford and Maynard are open and running, Natick is well into the process, and Ayer, (YES, AYER), should be the model community for every town in Massachusetts, because they, as in their town government, actually initiated the process and is following through. I have not been to the site, but it appears to be in a decent location.


I believe that if Acton were to build a lovely, rural, dog park at the Great Hill location, it could be an asset to the town as a whole, raising property values and inviting people from other communities to come visit, or to scope out exactly what we did and how we did it.

Acton could receive national attention, as many other thoughtfully designed parks have. Our park already includes a plan for safe and stress-free access for some of the town’s more fragile dog owners and dog lovers and the integration of trainers to assist when needed to facilitate a safe and accessible community for everybody who would enjoy the company of dogs.

For the future, imagine expanding onto Little Great Hill or to the neighboring property that Acton is considering acquiring, outfitting spaces that could be rented out for agility, training, obedience classes, even birthday parties! Imagine dock diving into the pond – which other dog trainer has that! This project could propel Acton into the national spotlight for having created something wonderful and inclusive, finally allowing us to emerge from our reputation as Concord’s farm town, that town on the way to Harvard, and my favorite, “Oh, that place.”

Let you imaginations run wild – and contact all your artist friends, because we need a really lovely picture…




October 5, 2016


On Monday (10-03-16), I met with Cathy Fochtman and Melissa Rier. Cathy reviewed each piece of the plan for “Phase 1” of the dog park. She went over the two items, the 100′ fence to block the front entrance to the park, I don’t recall the cost. She moved on to the fresh water feature, dwelling at first on the $30,000 it would cost to bring water from the street to the field, then brought out a picture of the fixture she had chosen. It was immediately clear that the fixture lacked a dog height fountain. Instead it had a bottle filler feature which Cathy pointed out would help with the problem they still have with soccer players leaving bottles behind. When I mentioned that there was no place for dogs to drink from the fountain, she pointed out that dog owners could fill their bowls from the bottle filler. This is unacceptable, as some dogs will guard resources that come from home, like water bowls.

I asked her about phase 2 of the dog park, specifically, whether there would be one. There would not be a phase 2. Unable to evict ABYS from the property, Cathy instead envisioned a continued shared space. Unfortunately, a dog park requires more and I felt I had to decline the plan, which I did at the time and then again by email.

Personally I would like to have a fence, on the chance that my dog would stop at it, but I could not in good faith agree to a plan that fails on every single promise I’d made to everybody who has given a signature or helped in any other way.  Not only that, but I couldn’t do that to myself. I had worked too long and too hard to settle for anything short of a safe, inclusive, and enclosed park where dogs and their owners could establish a community.

At the same meeting I learned that the offer of Jones Field for a park, which was larger than I had originally thought, and therefore could have been agreeable, albeit reluctantly, was an offer of approximately three eighths of the park, surrounded by the brook, volleyball and basketball courts. That was a disappointment. As it was, they had already decided that the space was not appropriate.




Jones Field – 10/01/16

Jones Field is at the corner of Martin St and Stow Rd in South Acton. It has been a baseball field for many years, with a playground at the eastern edge by an open brook.

According to the Recreation Department, baseball has been steadily decreasing in popularity and this field has already been returned to the town by ABYB. We are unaware how often the playground equipment is used.The recreation committee suggested this as an alternative site for the dog park.

jones-field-acreageThis is Jones Field with an approximation of its usable space measured inside the shaded boundary. The field as measured is 2.78 acres.

jones-infraredRotated to the more familiar angle, this is an infrared photo of Jones Field as it is now. The baseball diamond is visible in the lower right corner. The two shaded rectangles on the left side of the picture are the two playground areas. Farther to the left and at the very top of the picture are darkened areas that indicate a brook and flooding, respectively.

working_3This is an image of the field showing the flood plain in blue, a fence in black, and the solid green is the grassy surface of the field, with the baseball diamond and playground equipment removed.


All images originated at Acton’s GIS site:

Great Hill Field 9-06-16

aug-21-2016 GHF

Our first choice location for a dog park is this lovely, open field in South Acton. Located behind the South Acton fire station, it is a 2.5 acre, mostly level field bordered on three sides by heavy vegetation. Primary access to the Great Hill Conservation Trail System is at the top of the field, with secondary trail access points on either side. Not shown is a good sized pond which makes this property extraordinarily well-suited to being a dog park, as well as a parking lot, and a good distance from School Street.

This property is currently being shared by Acton Boxboro Youth Soccer and its use as an unofficial dog park.

The embellished map below depicts the field as it might be made into a dog park. The black line is the proposed fence – 4′ chain link, the wider yellow line represents an ADA accessible trail, and the pink line running along the left edge indicates an allowance for access to the trail heads. This plan is currently before the Recreation Committee for consideration.


Also before the recreation committee is a “Phase 1” plan which would include the fence across the opening of the park nearest the parking lot (the bottom of the diagram), along with fresh water features such as a hose down station, and some more benches.