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April 9 Hearing to Consider Splitting Hubbard Park for Leashed and Unleashed Dogs

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Map of Hubbard Park outlining proposed dog leash areas.
A map of Hubbard Park showing proposed areas for leashed and unleashed dogs. Map included in the meeting agenda packet for an April 9 public hearing about the proposed changes to park policy.
Proposal calls for allowing leashed dogs in the core of the park and unleashed dogs on the northern, steeper trails.

A proposal by Montpelier’s parks director Alec Ellsworth calls for splitting Hubbard Park into two sections: the northern section will continue to allow off-leash dog walking, and the southern section, or “core” of the park,would allow for on-leash-only dog walking. The Parks Commission will hear public comment about the proposed change tonight, Tuesday, April 9 at 6 p.m.

The public hearing — held both virtually and in city council chambers — represents a culmination of conversations, a survey, and a new park management plan. If the proposal gets enacted, it would dramatically change a decades-long policy that allows dogs to walk off-leash throughout Montpelier’s largest park. The city’s other parks require leashes. 

In a memo to parks commissioners, Ellsworth outlined his proposal to designate the northern 150 acres of the park “to allow off-leash dogs at all times whose owners follow the Canine Code of Conduct,” and to designate the sSouthern 100 acres of the park as an area where leashes are required at all times. He said one of his guiding principles in coming up with the proposal was to keep the change simple and to “make sure that everyone has access to Hubbard Park at whatever time they need.”

Although the portion Ellsworth recommends for solely on-leash use is smaller, it is also the core of the park, including both the old and new shelters, the tower and trails leading to the tower, the new universally accessible trail, four of the park’s outhouses, portions of the fitness trail, and all of the roads that lead into the park.

The northern section Ellsworth recommends for off-leash use includes the 7 Fireplaces Road and meadow area, portions of the fitness trail, the old growth hemlock forest, one outhouse, added acreage purchased in 2021, and both the Parks Connector Trail and the Nature Center Trail. Although  much larger than the proposed on-leash section, the northern section has minimal parking available and is generally more steep than the southern section.

To see the memo and meeting agenda, go to the Montpelier City website

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