LYNN – Dog walkers and owners are concerned that there is a lack of upkeep and oversight at Barkland Avenue dog park, located off of Parkland Avenue.
The park, which opened in 2013, has a large amount of space without grass that becomes muddy and a number of uneven surfaces that put dogs at risk for injury, according to some walkers who go to the park.
“When they first built that, it was a beautiful green meadow,” said Angela Shankar, owner of dog-walking business Leash Love. “As soon as they put it up I was like ‘Yeah, that’s going to be mud in a year.’”
She also said that the watering holes at the park don’t work, and that many owners either don’t pick up after their dogs or leave their waste at the park. Mark Buchwald, who is a dog walker for Shankar’s business, says that he has seen a multitude of items dropped off and left there, many of which should not be near a dog park.
“I’ve taken photos of people just dumping stuff right out in front of the park,” he said. “There was one day we pulled into the parking lot, and there was a sewing machine just laying right there by the entrance of the dog park.”
Both Shankar and Buchwald said that they typically take the dogs they are walking to parks in Salem or Swampscott, as they are in much better condition. They usually avoid dog parks if there are dogs there that they are not familiar with, but that is especially true at Barkland Avenue because of the way that some owners act with their dogs.
“So many dogs go there and get into fights,” Shankar said.
She added that as a result of the unsanitary conditions, many of the dogs she has walked near the park have gotten kennel cough, a contagious infection that causes dogs to hack.
The park requires a pass in order to gain entry, which costs $25 for the year. Dogs are also required to be registered in the city, but both Shankar and Buchwald say that there is little monitoring at the park to see if owners are abiding by the regulations.
Though she said the park is in need of major improvements, Shankar added that she doesn’t want to see it go, as it is currently the only one in the city. She hopes that improvements can be made to ensure the area is safe and properly maintained for the animals.
“I don’t want to see it go away because I do think it’s an important thing for owners who have energetic dogs like huskies and things like that to go to,” she said.
City Council President Jay Walsh said that he has received a few calls regarding the current state of the park and has been in talks with the Department of Public Works to find ways to temporarily improve it. Currently, there are no long-term plans for major improvements, but Walsh said that the DPW will be filling a small area of the park with sand to prevent dogs from getting injured from glass or holes in the ground. If that gets positive feedback, they will continue adding sand to the rest of the park.
With two dogs of his own, he also wants to see the park flourish and be a quality place for people to bring their dogs.
“I think there’s some need there, especially with the substrate,” said Walsh. “I felt like the sand, at least in the interim right now, we could get it there quick so that we’re not having any problems.”