EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 29, 2013

Requests for dog park, adult playground on council agenda

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — A request for a dog park as well as for a playground tailored to adults will be on the plate of the City Council when it meets tonight at 7 p.m.

The city has playgrounds for kids, and now one City Councilor says it’s time to create one for adults. The idea is to provide the city’s adult and senior population with a fun place to go to socialize, improve their health and fitness, and overall quality of life.

“It started in Asia, moved to Europe and is now beginning to see growth in the United States,” City Councilor William Macek said about his proposal for an outdoor area with exercise equipment designed to extend range of motion, improve balance, build strength and promote cardiovascular health.

Mayor James Fiorentini will once again try to convince the council of the need for a dog park after several failed attempts in the past.

“There have been a tremendous numbers of requests from residents over the years for a dog park,” Fiorentini said. “I’ve tried in the past with requests to the council to put in a dog park, but neighbors opposed it for various reasons, including worries that the dogs would run across their yards.”

“We’ve since identified a foundation that provides grants to build dog parks,” Fiorentini said. “But before we put in for a grant I want to be certain the council on board this time. I didn’t do that last time and that was my mistake.”

Fiorentini said he plans to propose a “small” fenced-in dog park in Riverside Park, in an area he will unveil at tonight’s council meeting.

“If we can do it with grant money, all the better,” Fiorentini said. “Finding the right location has been a challenge over the years.”

Macek’s presentation will include handouts and a PowerPoint presentation on various types of outdoor exercise equipment designed for adults.

“We spent over $1 million this year in grants to improve our playgrounds for kids, including Swasey Field,” Macek said. “Let’s invest in our adult and senior residents. Give them something to help improve their health, fitness, dexterity and overall quality of life.”

The mayor said he supports the idea of creating a playground for adults.

“I think some equipment for people to exercise sounds like a great idea,” Fiorentini said. “We can do so much more with our parks and playgrounds.”

Macek said the equipment would be incorporated into an existing park as it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

“When I think of play, I think of kids running around,” Macek said. “I don’t expect adults to play tag, but instead have access to equipment that is built for them.”

Macek said it would require a majority vote of the council to send his proposal to a committee for study.

“Because this is such a trend setting idea, I believe the state would embrace it,” Macek said. “If we do it right, it will be a very positive addition to the city.”