Off Leash Parks

off leash dog

In recent years there has been increased interest expressed by the public in providing legal opportunities for dogs to be off leash in certain city parks and public open spaces, and the City has been working with residents to explore additional opportunities for dogs with their owners to be off leash. There are two approaches currently being taken: dedicated off leash areas and shared use off leash areas.

Off Leash Working Group Draft Recommendations

A City Manager-appointed Off Leash Working Group has developed a set of draft recommendations for improving access to off leash areas for residents of Cambridge. Join us for any one of the meetings to hear about and discuss these recommendations:

  • Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 5:30 P. M.
    Main Library, Community Room
    449 Broadway
  • Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 6:00 P. M.
    Cambridge Community Center
    5 Callender Street
  • Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 5:30 P. M.
    Central Square Branch Library, Lewis Room
    45 Pearl Street 

You can view the recommendations here. The recommendations are intended to facilitate changes over time that will provide a broad network of open spaces throughout the city that offer opportunities for dogs to be off leash.

About the Off Leash Working Group

In August 2013, an Off Leash Working Group of city residents was appointed by the City Manager to work with city staff and the community to make recommendations on improvements that can be made for dogs in parks that are beneficial to all park users. The working group will also advise city staff on all off leash dog related issues such as potential modifications or expansion of the current off leash shared use program, signage, gates, lighting, ground cover, and other off leash amenities in parks, as well as enforcement of existing laws and regulations, and practices to ensure parks are in optimal condition for all users.

This is a short-term committee that is expected to complete its recommendations within 6 months to one year.

Working Group Members:

  • Carole Copeland
  • Sophia Emperador
  • Andrew Farrar
  • Kathryn Hencir
  • Susan Ruff
  • Raffael Cavallaro
  • Heidi Mitchell

For additional information or to be added to a mailing/contact list for the process, please contact Taha Jennings at 617/349-4302 or by email at tjennings@cambridgema.gov.

Shared Use Hours

The City of Cambridge held two public meetings during October 2011 to discuss possible shared use hours at Longfellow Park (in Neighborhood 10) and at Joan Lorentz Park (in Mid-Cambridge). Shared use refers to specific hours when dog owners and their pets may utilize designated areas of a park off leash. Shared use hours and availability may vary according to location, season, and ground conditions.

A shared use off leash hours pilot program began at Corcoran Field (Raymond Street Park) in Neighborhood 9 and Gold Star Mother’s (Gore Street) Park in East Cambridge in 2009. Dogs are allowed off leash in the open grassy areas at these locations between 6 A. M. and 9 A. M. only. For specific rules regarding the program please refer to signs posted at parks.

Help make the pilot program successful! The City is looking for residents to volunteer as liaisons between dog owners and city departments for each pilot program location. Please contact Mark McCabe, Director of the Cambridge Animal Commission at 617/349-4376 for more information.

Description

Dedicated off leash spaces are specific areas where the primary use is to allow dog owners to have their dogs off leash. These areas are generally fenced in to avoid potential conflicts with other users or passerby, and facilitate the containment of the dog. In Cambridge, dedicated off leash areas may be a park or part of a park or other public open space.

There is a dedicated off leash area at the Pacific Street Park in the Cambridgeport neighborhood. There is also a dedicated off leash area on a portion of Danehy Park closest to the New Street parking lot. The process of establishing both of these off leash areas included public meetings with neighbors and park users.

Shared use off leash areas are places where dogs are allowed off leash that are not necessarily separated from other uses and activities. Fresh Pond Reservation (West Cambridge) and Fort Washington Park (Cambridgeport) are two examples of shared use areas in Cambridge.

In 2009 the City established a program that created additional shared use locations available for dogs to be off leash during certain times only. Similar shared use programs have been undertaken in other cities where open space is very limited as a reasonable way to accommodate dog owners who desire regular periods of time for legal off leash activity. The initial areas considered for additional shared off leash uses were public open spaces that are not a part of school grounds, children’s playgrounds, or heavily used athletic facilities, and by virtue of their layout, would not necessarily require additional fencing or significant physical changes to park grounds. There was also an effort to distribute the potential spaces geographically throughout the City.

In spring 2008, the City began a series of meetings regarding establishing a Shared Use Pilot Program at five parks throughout the City. The meetings focused on getting information and feedback from nearby residents, park users and dog owners on the general idea, and also the appropriate times, seasons, locations, and other considerations to take into account for such a program. There were meetings regarding Gold Star Mother’s (Gore Street) Park in East Cambridge, Corcoran Field (Raymond Street) Park in Neighborhood 9, Clement Morgan (Columbia Street) Park in Area 4, Rafferty Park in the Cambridge Highlands, and Riverside Press Park in the Riverside neighborhood.

As a result of that public process, Corcoran Field (Raymond Street Park) and Gold Star Mother’s (Gore Street) Park, were chosen as the initial locations for the program, which began in 2009.

Documents

For more information please read the brochure Off Leash Dog Guide and Shared Use Pilot Program Information

Additional Resources

See the Animal Commission Home Page.

For More Information

If you would like to be notified of additional meetings or would like more information please contact Taha Jennings at 617/349-4302 or email at tjennings@cambridgema.gov.