Everett Avenue On-Ramp Closing for One Month on May 6

Everett Avenue On-Ramp Closing for One Month on May 6

 The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is reminding members of the public that the on-ramp from Everett Avenue onto the Tobin Bridge (Route 1 southbound) in Chelsea will be closed for approximately one month beginning on Sunday, May 6.

This traffic impact is associated with the ongoing Tobin Bridge Repair project and necessary in order to allow crews and contractors to safely and effectively conduct operations.

The Tobin Bridge work will also mean temporary off-peak lane closures on Route 1 north and southbound through November 2018, as well as some adjustments to the width of the travel lanes in order to allow crews to access work areas on the bridge. Additionally, the Beacon Street off-ramp will be closed for an approximately a two-month period beginning in summer 2018.

Three full lanes of travel will be in place on the Tobin Bridge this year during peak commute hours. Travelers are reminded that there will be future traffic impacts including permanent lane closures on Route 1 northbound during the 2019 and 2020 construction seasons.

This $41.6 million project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020.

The full scope of work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.

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Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced several changes to the Mystic/Tobin Bridge repair project, including the one-month closure of the Everett Avenue on-ramp May 7.

MassDOT announced that since several projects in the area are coming underway – including the Alford Street Bridge, the North Washington Street Bridge, and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge in Boston – they have adjusted the Tobin work to not close a lane permanently on the lower deck northbound.

This schedule adjustment means that MassDOT will no longer be implementing a permanent lane closure on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from April 22 through November of this year but will instead be adjusting the width of the travel lanes in this area and utilizing off-peak lane closures. Three full lanes of travel will be in place on the bridge this year during peak commute hours.

The full list of impacts this construction season is now as follows:

  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the upper deck (Route 1 southbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Everett Avenue on-ramp closed at all times for one-month period beginning on May 7.
  • Beacon Street off-ramp closed at all times for a two-month period beginning in summer 2018.
  • Fourth Street off-ramp closed for a one-month period in 2019.

No more than one ramp will be closed at any given time throughout the duration of the project.

“We are investing historic levels of funding into our highway transportation system and we are seeking to do so in ways that minimize impacts on the travel public and our local communities,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Our construction teams have worked hard to optimize the schedule of operations to better accommodate travel throughout this area. We continue to encourage members of the public to learn about upcoming traffic impacts and use the appropriate tools to make the best decisions on traveling in order to reach their destinations in an efficient manner.”

This $41.6 million maintenance project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 with lane closures and traffic impacts occurring during each of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 construction seasons.

Work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.

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Chief: Chelsea Dispatch Erred in Accident on Mystic/Tobin

Chief: Chelsea Dispatch Erred in Accident on Mystic/Tobin

The failure of Chelsea Fire apparatus to be dispatched to a serious motor vehicle accident with an ejection on the southbound Mystic/Tobin Bridge Sunday is being blamed on a dispatch error.

The accident occurred in the southbound lane on the Tobin further into Charlestown on Sunday, and one of the occupants was ejected from the vehicle in a serious accident.

Typically, as the long-standing agreement goes, on any Tobin emergency, Boston crews head northbound, and Chelsea crews head southbound due to the easier access for each community in those directions. That is the case even when the emergency is further back on the bridge in Chelsea or Charlestown.

However, during the ejection accident on Sunday, Chelsea crews did not make it there, and some postulated that it was because Boston hadn’t notified Chelsea.

Not so, said Chief Len Albanese.

“This isn’t a Boston Fire issue,” he said. “On this call it was a Chelsea Dispatch error. Boston did notify our dispatch and they had the information but did not send it out. This can’t happen. We have to do a further investigation as well, but this was a Chelsea Dispatch error that we are working to correct.”

Chief Albanese said they have spoken with the 9-1-1 Director about the issue, and the chief wants to re-open the policy regarding the Tobin to make sure everyone is aware that Chelsea goes southbound on all accidents.

“We are going to update the policy immediately and work on the specifics of it,” he said.

The crash happened on Sunday morning on the Cana Ramp with two cars and was listed as very serious due to the fact one person was ejected. The ramp was closed for some time.

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Tobin Bridge Project Starting Next Month, Meeting March 27

Tobin Bridge Project Starting Next Month, Meeting March 27

The Tobin Bridge rehabilitation project will begin next month, and state transportation officials will come to Chelsea to explain the impacts on March 27.

A map of the area of focus for the Tobin Bridge maintenance project that will begin next month. A public meeting on the project has been scheduled for March 27 in Chelsea.

A map of the area of focus for the Tobin Bridge maintenance project that will begin next month. A public meeting on the project has been scheduled for March 27 in Chelsea.

The Tobin Bridge project is separate and distinct from the Chelsea Viaducts project, which has a different timeline and a different area of focus. The Viaduct project will start later next year.

This week, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is reminding members of the public that work-related activities and traffic impacts as part of the Tobin Bridge Rehabilitation Project are currently expected to begin in April after MassDOT conducts an outreach process to inform the public of project impacts.

A public meeting on this project is currently scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, at the Chelsea Senior Center, 10 Riley Way.

To allow crews and contractors to safely and effectively conduct operations, one lane on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) will be closed at all times in this area beginning in April and lasting through the end of the 2018 construction season. Overnight off-peak lane closures will be implemented on the upper deck (Route 1 southbound) as operations require during this time.

The Everett Avenue on-ramp will be also closed at all times for all vehicles beginning in late April, and this closure will last approximately one month. Following the re-opening of the Everett Avenue on-ramp, the Beacon Street off-ramp will then be closed for approximately two months. The Fourth Street off-ramp will also be closed for a one-month period, and this closure is currently expected to occur in November 2018. No more than one ramp will be closed at any given time throughout the duration of the project.

This $41.6 million maintenance project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 with lane closures and traffic impacts occurring during each of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 construction seasons.

Work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.

The Tobin Memorial Bridge was erected in 1948-1949 and opened to traffic in 1950. It carries Route 1 with three travel lanes northbound on its lower level and three lanes southbound on the upper level. The 36-foot-wide roadway is bounded on both sides by safety walks (2’7″ wide) with steel-pipe railings on each side.

The main structure over the Mystic River is a three-span, cantilevered truss 1,525′ in length. Its center span is 800′ and the maximum truss height is 115′. It provides a navigable waterway opening 700′ wide by 135′ high. A smaller, simply supported warren truss spans the Little Mystic. It reaches a maximum truss height of 65′ and is 439′ long. Its navigable waterway opening measures 340′ wide by 100′ high.

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MBTA to Implement New Software System to Avert Chelsea Street Bridge

MBTA to Implement New Software System to Avert Chelsea Street Bridge

the potential to be spoiled – like many Chelsea commutes – by the often untimely lifting of the Chelsea Street Bridge.

The Bridge is a key pinch point on the new SL-3 route as it heads to and from Chelsea to East Boston and the Seaport. As great as the projected 30-minute ride to South Station sounds, it could easily be thwarted by the Bridge being in the “up” position.

The Chelsea Street Bridge goes up multiple times a day, and from start to finish lasts more than 20 minutes. Such delays could drastically impair the service of the Silver Line.

That was identified as early as last summer as a looming problem for operations of the SL-3 by the MBTA Board.

On Monday, in a presentation to the Board, the MBTA revealed a new software system that will help in trying to mitigate what could totally ruin the reliability of the new service.

The new software will be used by the Chelsea Street Bridge operator, who will notify the MBTA bus dispatch center when the bridge is going up.

The software will provide bus dispatch with estimated duration and projected travel time for each of two possible detours around the Bridge. The dispatch will then use that information to determine the best response for each bus.

MBTA officials said that the Bus Operations Division is in the process of developing a Standard Operating Procedure to divert the SL-3 service in response to the Bridge going up. An alternative roué has been identified and will be tested during various times of the day to project run times and reliability.

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High Water:Recent Blizzard Storm Surge Forces Tidal Flooding to the Forefront

High Water:Recent Blizzard Storm Surge Forces Tidal Flooding to the Forefront

By Seth Daniel

When the Jan. 4 blizzard hit Chelsea and Greater Boston, it was a lot of snow – which was par for the course in January – but the eye-opener was the 14.99 foot high tide that accompanied a storm surge.

Suddenly, blizzard conditions were matched with heavy flooding on Marginal Street, Congress Avenue and Beacham Street – where the Island End River actually went over its banks and threatened the New England Produce Center, which is a key cog in the region’s food supply.

To top it all off, the Chelsea Street Bridge was actually closed because the Creek was too high to keep it open.

“It really puts a lot of things into perspective,” said Roseann Bongiovanni of GreenRoots. “It’s predicted that all the way up to the Market Basket will be under water by 2030 and beyond, but you see something like the storm on Jan. 4 and it seems like it could be 2025 or 2020, maybe sooner…There are a lot of people who think they don’t have to worry about this now because the predictions are way off in the future. Well, the Chelsea Street Bridge closed down because the Creek overflowed. Nobody would believe that would happen in 2018, but it did. It’s real. That’s what I think we should take from this.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said there was some significant flooding in the Island End River area, coming up by Signature Breads, the marina and to the DPW Yard. However, the Produce Center didn’t have significant flooding. At the same time, it put into perspective that such a critical facility for the food supply in New England, some mid-Atlantic states and southern Canada could be in a very risky location.

“That was a scary situation,” he said. “I know it came up very close to our DPW yard.”

There are already several grants in hand to do some infrastructure work to shore up the Island End River (about $1.5 million in one grant), but Ambrosino and Bongiovanni said the storm on Jan. 4 puts an exclamation point on getting it done faster.

“That’s been one of our focuses at GreenRoots for quite some time because it is a very key facility for the region,” said Bongiovanni. “We have been working with the Produce Center and they say the bays are high enough that the produce won’t be compromised. We know they keep about three day worth of produce on hand, but what if the trucks can’t get there for three days or more. That Center provides all the produce for a large area, and that food supply would be cut off for as long as the flooding there persists.”

Bongiovanni said they have been working with the City on some ideas.

City Planners have suggested salt marsh restoration that could naturally prevent flooding, as well as new sea walls and green infrastructure.

A more ambitious project, Bongiovanni said, is a study to create a Micro-Grid in Chelsea that would be able to power places like the Produce Center and Beth Israel Medical on Broadway if the electrical supply were cut off.

“Besides sea level rise and flooding, we want to think about what would happen if the electrical grid were down and they couldn’t power their refrigeration units to keep the produce cold,” she said.

Partners in that upcoming study include the Produce Center, the City, Chelsea Public Schools, Chelsea Housing Authority and Beth Israel. They would all host renewable energy generators that could be used just for Chelsea in an emergency.

“It’s the first stages of making the City completely energy independent,” said Bongiovanni. “That’s the kind of thing we really need to start thinking about when we see water coming up as high as it did.”

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Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony Set for Sunday in Chelsea Square

Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony Set for Sunday in Chelsea Square

By Cary Shuman

The Tobin Bridge Chabad of Everett, Temple Emmanuel and the Walnut Street Synagogue will host a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony Sunday in Chelsea Square.

Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights, began Tuesday night and continues for eight days.

Rabbi Yisroel “Sruli” Baron said the City of Chelsea was very welcoming to holding the event in the city.

“We reached out to City Manager Tom Ambrosino and he was very helpful and encouraging in setting up this ceremony,” said Rabbi Baron, who is the spiritual leader of the new Tobin Bridge Chabad that is housed in the former Congregration Tifereth Israel on Malden Street in Everett, just over the Chelsea border. Tobin Bridge Chabad is an affiliate of Chabad of the North Shore.

Ambrosino will deliver the city greetings at the event that was an initiative of Tobin Bridge Chabad. The city manager and former Revere mayor will also have the honor of lighting the shamash candle, which is the ninth branch of the menorah.

Rabbi Oksana Chapman of Temple Emmanuel and Rabbi Lila Kagedan of Congegration Agudas Shalom (Walnut Street) will join Rabbi Baron in leading the ceremony. The two local congregations are co-hosting the holiday gathering.

City Council President Leo Robinson will lead a delegation of Chelsea officials expected to be in attendance.

Rabbi Baron invites Chelsea residents to attend the candle lighting ceremony that will begin at 5:30 p.m.

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Councillor Wants Answers on 5th St Onramp

Councillor Wants Answers on 5th St Onramp

By Seth Daniel

The upcoming Chelsea Viaduct state highway project may include plans to eliminate the 5th Street onramp next to the Williams School, and Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he wants answers about the plan.

Avellaneda said at the Nov. 20 Council meeting that he has learned that MassDOT is considering closing down the onramp, which he said is critical for making sure the downtown and Everett Avenue are not flooded with vehicle traffic at certain times of the day.

“There is a proposal by MassDOT to close the 5th Street onramp to the Tobin Bridge at Arlington Street adjacent to the MITC Building,” he said. “They are talking…about doing away with it and eliminating it. It jumps off the page to me. I am wondering what impact that will have to the other two off-ramps and what kind of drastic impact it will have on our downtown.”

The MITC (Massachusetts Information Technology Center) Building is a state-owned building that houses computer technology and electronic records for the state. It has several hundreds employees.

A spokesman for MassDOT would not confirm or deny that there is a plan to take away the on-ramp. He said the plans are still in design for the overall viaduct project, and a public process with members of the community is underway.

A meeting took place earlier this month in Chelsea to discuss the project, which will begin in 2016.

“The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is continuing to move forward with the design of the Chelsea Viaduct Rehabilitation Project and is committed to rehabilitating this important structure to ensure long term reliability throughout this area,” said the spokesman in a statement. “MassDOT has developed a comprehensive public participation plan that will engage local civic leaders and elected officials, area businesses and members of the community as well as commuters.”

The land where the onramp is located was actually taken by the Highway Department decades ago when the Tobin/Mystic Bridge was being constructed. That particular piece of land was the home to Union Park – a park that housed the Civil War statue now across the street from City Hall. The park was laid out in a “spoke” formation with all paths leading to the Civil War monument in the center. However, during the Bridge construction, it was part of a massive land-taking in Chelsea and was designated for highway use.

It’s on that basis where Avellaneda said he wants more information. He said he wants to know what the plan is for that land if the onramp is taken away. He said since it was taken by eminent domain for highway use, it should be returned to the City if it is no longer a highway use.

He said he has suspicions that the state just wants to use the land to create more parking for the MITC employees.

“Do they want to expand parking for the MITC?” he asked. “That land was taken by eminent domain for one purpose and that was for a highway. If the highway is no longer using it for a highway, that land should go back to the City. That land was taken away from Chelsea and should not go to the MITC for parking and for them to continue their spread. The plan for 5th Street needs to be found and any hidden agenda out there needs to be found.”

The Chelsea Viaduct is a structure which runs between the Tobin Bridge to where Route 1 crosses above County Road and the Viaduct carries traffic through the area known as the “Chelsea Curves.”

The Chelsea Viaduct is structurally deficient and in need of repair and rehabilitation in order to ensure the reliability of this important connection.

Working with the City of Chelsea, residents living near the Viaduct, roadway users, and other stakeholders, the project team is currently designing a plan for construction that minimizes and mitigates temporary construction impacts. MassDOT’s current schedule includes reaching the 25 percent design milestone before the end of this year, continuing design and related work throughout the winter, and then advertising the project to potential construction bidders in the spring of 2018.

When completed, the Viaduct Rehabilitation project will provide repairs to the structure’s supports and a new travel surface for vehicles traveling on it. Work on the viaduct will be coordinated with construction activities occurring as part of the separate Tobin Bridge Deck Rehabilitation Project.

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New Chelsea Day Center Making a Difference in Homeless Community

New Chelsea Day Center Making a Difference in Homeless Community

By Seth Daniel

Pastor Ricardo Valle, Ivone Valle, Esperanza Escobar and Ivellise Gonzalez are all volunteers in the new Chelsea Day Resource Center (SELAH) in the basement of the Light of Christ Church on Broadway. The new Center is a partnership between the City, Valle and many others.

Pastor Ricardo Valle, Ivone Valle, Esperanza Escobar and Ivellise Gonzalez are all volunteers in the new Chelsea Day Resource Center (SELAH) in the basement of the Light of Christ Church on Broadway. The new Center is a partnership between the City, Valle and many others.

In years past, when it was severely cold, those living on the streets of Chelsea had nowhere to go but under blankets.

Some, as recently as last year, died because of exposure to the cold.

Now, to help prevent that and to give those on the streets a place to go during the day, the Chelsea Day Resource Center (SELAH) has opened in the basement of the Light of Christ Church at 738 Broadway.

The Day Center is a partnership between Pastor Ricardo Valle and his church, as well as the City of Chelsea, Pastor Ruben Rodriguez, MGH Chelsea and CAPIC.

It is part of the overall effort to provide a place for those that hang out in Bellingham Square or under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge to go for services – things such as meals, clothing, hot showers, a bathroom and – occasionally – a shoulder to cry on. It’s also a resource that can be activated by the City overnight in times of extreme cold or extreme weather events.

It isn’t a new idea, but rather one Valle and others have been championing privately for a number of years. However, about three years ago, the City began to show a greater interest in partnering with Valle and others during a relentless cold snap. One particularly bad night, they put together a quick plan to partner with Valle and host those from the streets as a trial emergency measure.

It went so well that plans have been ongoing since then to get something official going. Now, that has happened.

Valle said the center has been open since Aug. 28, and so far things are working really well. In fact, SELAH is just about ready to get their full commercial kitchen working so they can provide on-site cooked meals every day, Monday through Friday.

“This is an investment with no monetary returns,” said Valle. “If someone is sick and they die, that’s terrible but we can accept that. If they die because they are out in the cold, we can do better than that. I have this space here and I believe everyone deserves a second chance and maybe this is the place where they can come find a second chance…We talk to them and try to get them to ask for help. Once they ask, we immediately have a team ready to get them the help they need to get out of this lifestyle.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the population of homeless and vagrants in the city needed a place to go during the day. Many used to hang out in the Square all day, and it wasn’t compatible with the business district and nearby schools. However, there was nowhere else for them to go.

“We were really looking to partner to create a place so there’s a place people can go to get a shower and something to eat,” he said. “We hope it can be a helpful resource for our Navigators. There are now options that they didn’t have before. So far it’s doing pretty well.”

Ambrosino said the City was able to give the Center a grant of about $35,000 to build the showers and bathrooms. Meanwhile, other monies were directed to the operating budget from the Mass General neighborhood monies.

Bobby Soroka lived on the streets and under the Bridge for years until getting his own place recently. He started coming to the Day Center when it opened, and now he returns to help out as a volunteer.

“I liked what I saw when I came here and they needed help,” he said. “I was here anyway. Without this, they wouldn’t be able to shower. It’s a nice place to hand and especially with winter coming. Everybody gets along. There are no fights or problems.”

Valle said having the shower and ability to clean up is very important. He said they often find those coming in very deteriorated conditions. One man had his feet rotted, and couldn’t walk well. In general, he said, it has helped the hygiene of the community of homeless that frequent and live in Chelsea.

“A shower means a lot to them,” he said. “The first time we opened the center, it took 30 minutes and you could feel the smell. Now you come here and you don’t feel that because they have access to a shower five days a week. We had a man who came in to take a shower and he took his shoes off and his feet had deteriorated. He couldn’t walk and was using a stick to get around. It was bad and we see a lot of people in that condition.”

Soroka now has his own housing, but at night in the cold, he said he still is uneasy when he smells the air. It brings back really bad memories, and so he avoids going outside at night. He also said it helps him to continue to relate to what those at the Center are going through.

“It meant a lot to see them open this, especially a few years ago when they opened it during the cold,” he said. “I was under the Bridge then. I’m not one to go to a shelter. I’ll sleep outside first. I have a place, but I don’t like to go outside. That night air scares me to death. It makes me think I could be out there again. I hope not.”

The Day Center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is in desperate need of volunteers, Valle said, and he hopes that more Chelsea people will step forward to help.

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Dog Owners to Rally Saturday in Kickoff for First Chelsea Off-Leash Park

Dog Owners to Rally Saturday in Kickoff for First Chelsea Off-Leash Park

By Seth Daniel

This little corner of Broadway and Commandants Way has been selected for the City’s first off-leash dog park for small to medium sized dogs.

This little corner of Broadway and Commandants Way has been selected for the City’s first off-leash dog park for small to medium sized dogs.

Get your paws to City Hall on Saturday, as dog owners across the City are invited to rally and parade down to Lower Broadway where the City is planning its first off-leash dog park.

The Paw-Raid event will start at City Hall Saturday, Sept. 9, at 11 a.m. From there, dogs and their owners will stroll down Broadway to the site of the proposed new park under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge.

The new dog park will be at the corner of Broadway and Commandants Way across from the Chelsea Yacht Club on a small, 2,000 sq. ft. corner of the newly-constructed Mystic Overlook Park – soon to be Chelsea’s first under-the-bridge open space.

“It’s a smaller park so it’s designed for smaller dogs,” said Planner Alex Train. “While we do have larger parks beside it, all of our parks in Chelsea mandate dogs be on a leash. This will be the first off-leash park in the City and will have about 2,000 sq. ft. for dogs to run around.”

The small park will be separated into two areas with a retaining wall and will have benches and a doggie water fountain. It will also include landscaping and other improvements.

The park is actually a gift to the City in many ways, with the Stanton Foundation of Cambridge footing – or “pawing” – 90 percent of the costs. The City only has to pay about 10 percent of the costs of the Park, which are being done in conjunction with the larger Mystic Overlook open space next door.

Train said the plan is to put the project to bid at the end of September and begin work in the fall. The hope is to have completion of it by late spring 2018.

The event on Saturday is designed by the City and the Chelsea Prospers movement to get a critical mass of dog owners who could serve as a “Friends” group to the park.

“It’s a celebratory event to make people fully aware of the construction schedule and get a gathering of dog owners to walk together down Broadway,” he said. “There will be a lot of ongoing maintenance that the City is hoping to share with any Friends of the Dog Park group that could form. We hope that we could collaborate with a Friends group to maintain and improve the dog park. We’re really trying to foster that congregation of dog owners with Saturday’s event.”

Train said that City leaders – and even planners like himself – have seen the need for more dog facilities.

“I’ve worked here for two years and the numbers of people I see with dogs is steadily increasing,” he said. “This is definitely needed.”

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