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A two to one vote by members of the Town Forest Committee pumped new energy into the Dog Park Task Force, as members continue to lock in the use of a land parcel.
The committee approved using 1 acre of wooded land on Gage Lane near Heart Pond. The parcel would be loaned by the town for a year to the task force and then officials would reassess the matter with the Town Forest members embedded in the process.
Made up of residents Hugh Maguire and Jim Gozzo and Highway Superintendent Chip Barrett, the Town Forest Committee keeps tabs on overgrown forest areas that need thinning. It operates with no budget, according Maguire, who is the chairman.
The committee voted on Nov. 30 with Maguire dissenting.
“There are a lot of technical questions that are still up in the air,” he said, noting that the task force members have yet to submit a formal proposal. Maguire expressed concern that Gage Lane crosses into Chelmsford, serving as the sole access road for Chelmsford residents.
“Gage Lane is essentially a long driveway,” he said.
Maguire said the plan is for papers to be drawn up, neighbors notified, money raised and a parcel cleared and fenced.
But he would prefer that the matter fall under the town’s Recreation Department so the forest committee can be left to its trees.
“Someone threw a dart at the board and it landed on the Town Forest Committee,” he said. “…We lived a very quiet lifestyle until the dog park came along…trees are always happy.”
But committee member Jim Gozzo, views things differently.
“The portion of the Gage Forest I support as a dog park has limited value as forest land,” he stated in an email. “This is a 1 to 2 acre piece of the Gage forest adjacent to Gage Road and Old Lowell Road. This particular piece of the forest has limited tree growth and invasive (plants) are apparent…We’ve had a professional forester review the Gage Forest and map out the various stands of timber and he had noted an old gravel pit in the area of the proposed dog park.”
Task Force Co-chairman Edie Fruscione announced the committee vote on the group’s Facebook page, saying the next steps will be to develop a plan using town resources such as the Highway Department and engineering. The group also expects to fundraise, she wrote.
In the meantime, Maguire is scratching his head over what he calls a “poorly planned…,” “urban solution” for a town that maintains rural characteristics.
Still, he’s willing to give the plan a try, even with some lingering doubts.
“We’re slowly trying to work out this one-year loan to an entity that only exists on Facebook,” he said.