An existing green space on Foav Court in Biddeford has been proposed as a new off-leash dog park for the Bacon Street neighborhood. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Residents of Biddeford could soon have a second location to let their dogs off-leash.

According to a press release, the city of Biddeford will host a neighborhood meeting and dessert social on Sept. 24 to obtain the opinion of residents about possibly creating a new dog park in an existing green space on Foav Court off Bacon Street.

Biddeford currently has another dog park at Rotary Park off Main Street which is maintained by volunteers and through donations. Other nearby municipalities such as Kennebunk, Old Orchard Beach and Ogunquit also offer dog parks and Saco opened a dog park at Pepperell Park in November 2017.

The neighborhood meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at 46 Sullivan St. and is part of the “My Neighborhood Network” neighborhood revitalization initiative. Through this initiative, residents of defined neighborhoods within Biddeford meet with city staff members and community leaders to discuss how to make their neighborhood a better place to live.

The meeting was scheduled after residents of the Bacon Street Neighborhood expressed strong interest in creating a small fenced dog park in the open green space on Foav Court at the recent Family Fun Festival last month.

Community members who proposed the project have worked to gather supporters for their idea and Linda Waters, Biddeford’s Community Development Coordinator, will attend the meeting and listen to the neighborhood’s suggestions about the dog park.

“An important part of the My Neighborhood Network initiative is to encourage the neighborhoods to suggest projects and changes they would like to see,” Waters said. “If residents recommend that the city considers this project, we will work to guide them through the necessary steps to make it a reality.”

As contained in the Code of Ordinances adopted by the Biddeford City Council, dog parks within city limits must be in an area that has been fenced in and designated for exclusive use by dogs.

A city ordinance also stipulates that all dog parks in Biddeford shall have clearly established rules for their use and those rules should be posted at all entrances to the dog park.

Statistics from The Trust for Public Land released in 2018 show that in America’s largest cities there are 810 dog parks in operation, which is a 40 percent increase since 2009.

Although many dog owners see dog parks as a great method to provide an opportunity for pet socialization, the flip side of the coin is how some city residents will feel about increased traffic, noise and health and safety risks typically associated with this type of project. Fecal matter left behind by dogs that is not cleaned up can contain harmful bacteria and can pose a health risk to children and the city is not held liable for attacks made by animals in a dog park, although the pet owners themselves could be sued.

Randy Lecasse lives in an apartment on nearby Sullivan Street and said he believes the proposed dog park is a great idea.

“It would be really convenient to bring my dog Buster over there,” he said. “We don’t have a car and it’s pretty far to walk to the dog park at Rotary Park, so I’m all for it.”

He said that if the park is created, he would bring his dog there two or three times a week for exercise.

For more information about the My Neighborhood Network, or if you are a resident of the Bacon Street Neighborhood and unable to attend the meeting, please contact Community Development Coordinator Linda Waters by email at [email protected] or by phone at 284-9105 to express your thoughts about the proposed dog park on Foav Court.

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 or by email at [email protected]

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