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Allstonians Call on Harvard to Support Public Dog Park

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Allstonians are calling for the creation of a dog park in the Boston neighborhood in a recent petition circulating among residents.

The petition proposes a number of sites between Lincoln Street, which abuts the Massachusetts Turnpike, and the Charles River. This area includes Harvard Business School and the University's athletics complexes.

The petition’s author, Allston resident Christopher J. Arena, wrote on the online form that Allstonians are open to location suggestions from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the city of Boston, and Harvard.

Arena said he arranged a meeting to discuss the topic with a member of Harvard Public Affairs and Communications, the University’s public relations and lobbying apparatus. He publicized the meeting, which he expects to take place before Christmas, over “A-B 2006”, an email list that includes Allston-Brighton residents.

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University spokesperson Brigid O’Rourke declined to comment on whether the University has plans to donate land or contribute funds to building a dog park.

The petition cites the locations of other dog parks in the area, which it says are all at least 2-3 miles away or privately owned. It indicates a desire for a public dog park that is well-maintained. As of Sunday, Arena said the petition has received 112 signatures.

Because of Harvard’s long-term plans in Allston, Arena said he believes that it should continue to invest in the community, which he said includes supporting an accessible and well-kept dog park.

“Harvard has capital, Harvard has the land, Harvard is an organization who’s trying to make up for some, you know, land grabs in the past in Allston-Brighton,” he said.

Harvard has ramped up its development and involvement in Allston in recent years as it prepares to transition its School of Engineering and Applied Sciences across the river, set to open in fall 2020. The University has invested in the Allstonian community through its Ed Portal, which is a hub for outreach efforts such as the mentorship program.

Arena, who moved to Allston last fall, said he started the petition because he and his partner have not been able to find a satisfactory park for their two dogs, a sentiment that has resonated with other residents. He said that dog parks build community, citing a group of friends he met taking his dogs to local Mansfield Park.

“We have a Facebook message group going — we spend a lot of time with these people — we’re doing a Secret Santa together,” he said. “These are our friends now.”

Mansfield Park, however, is “not maintained, not grassed… it’s rock-covered and just sort of a poop-place,” according to Arena.

Allston-Brighton resident Melissa Scarpa Van Horn, who signed the petition, said that she should not have to drive to a dog park, which is what she does right now.

“I end up usually having to take them to the South End where there are dog parks,” Scarpa said.

If unable to secure land through Harvard, Arena said residents would have to raise funds on their own and coordinate the project through the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

—Staff writer Devin B. Srivastava can be reached at devin.srivastava@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Aidan B. Carey can be reached at aidan.carey@thecrimson.com.

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