Mary Webber, left, is hopeful a spot can be found in Yarmouth for a new dog park. She’s pictured in February with fellow dog-owners, from left, Steve and Joyce Bell, and Joe Long. Alex Lear / The Forecaster File

YARMOUTH — A committee tasked with developing a dog park in town is preparing to weigh interest and support.

It will also ask residents what types of amenities they might like to see at any potential dog park.

There is only one place in Yarmouth where dogs can freely run off-leash: the picnic area at Royal River Park. In all other locations dogs are required to be leashed and under voice control at all times.

That’s what prompted a group of residents to propose adding a dog park where dogs would be free to run and play without human interference.

Last winter the Town Council approved creating a subcommittee that operates under the purview of the Parks and Lands Committee, to investigate developing a fenced, off-leash dog park.

Since then a special task force has been meeting to address issues such as site location and what such a park should include.

Mary Webber, who’s acting as the liaison between the Parks and Lands Committee and the task force, said dog parks are popular amenities in other places around the country and “we’re very excited about the opportunity to build a dog park here.” 

During the past few months the task force has been “focused on assessing area dog parks and gathering information” about the best way to approach creation of a new dog park, Webber said this week.

She said the next steps include identifying possible sites and developing criteria to rank the pros and cons for each site. The hope is to find a spot with at least 5-acres that could be easily fenced and doesn’t get muddy.

Webber said a questionnaire is also being drafted that’s designed to survey townspeople about their level of support for a dog park and what amenities would be appropriate.

At the August meeting of the Parks and Lands Committee, she said potential sites and a criteria matrix would be discussed with an eye toward making a recommendation to the Town Council for consideration.

Anyone interested in sharing their input can email Webber at [email protected].

There are nearly 1,200 licensed dogs in town, according to the Town Clerk’s Office.

While there are many dog owners, there are also those in town who don’t want to have to deal with dogs while out enjoying one of Yarmouth’s many open spaces.

That’s one reason the dog park task force was created.

I would say that dogs are the No. 1 one issue that we on the Parks and Lands Committee deal with,” Webber said in a prior interview. “For every park in Yarmouth we have conflicting user groups.”

She said the need for a place for dogs to run off-leash has been a hot topic in town for at least 10 years.

Yarmouth is a relatively small town, “but in terms of public lands, we’ve got a lot,” Webber said, and some of that could be reserved for dogs.