Commentaries Community

The Gassy (Flights) as a Dog Park?

North End resident, Maria Ciampa (Pidg), shares this commentary on establishing a dog park in the neighborhood and questions the Gassy Flights area for that purpose.

“The Flights” at the Gassy (DeFilippo Park) Photo by Maria Ciampa

Hearing there’s a bit of chatter about turning the Gassy into a Dog Park!  I’m under the impression that many of us, dog owners and not, already signed the “Ruff” petition to get parcel 12 at Haymarket for this purpose! I’d like to share my experience, observations and knowledge as a veterinary technician of 19yrs, with my North End neighbors about the CONS of considering space at the (the gassy/flights) as a potential dog park.  Yes, I’m a dog owner and no, I don’t use the space as a “litter box” for my two standard poodles for reasons listed below:

1. Dogs can continually reinfect themselves with intestinal parasites when there is a concentrated population of dogs in confined space.  Concrete or earthen/grass cover is perfect for dogs to ingest the larvae and eggs of common intestinal dog parasites like round and hook worms.

2.  The stairs in the gassy/flights can pose injury to our pets while exercising, especially since there will be multiple dogs.  Most parks in and around our area like Somerville and Southie have flat ground covered in medium to large size gravel.  Easy to hose off and easier to rid of parasites.  When dogs exercise with other dogs, they tend to want to run and chase.  They need flat land to stretch, tumble and roll.  We are asking for trouble with sets of stairs in between each tier!

3.  In many dog parks there are posted rules stating three dogs to one walker.  When this rule is abused I’ve witnessed responsible dog owners call the police/animal control person, to reinforce the rules.  The offender is either asked to leave or fined.  I recently observed this situation last week in one of the Somerville dog parks.  It is common to see one person walking 4 to 5 dogs in our neighborhood.  I don’t believe we have the police/animal control staff available to reinforce this rule when we’re continually asking them to patrol our area for drug use, assaults and petty theft.  So let’s think about the tiered small areas in the gassy/flights and the number of dogs using it, not to play but as a LITTER BOX!  Who will help reinforce our park rules and that concern stands for any property we designate as a “dog park.”  Anyone care to take on that role!

4. From the “behavior standpoint” small fenced in spaces with large amounts of dogs, commonly influence “pack behaviors.”  This can result in dog fights while the dogs are working out their hierarchy.  One or two dogs will often choose a small or submissive dog as the “victim” and more dogs will get involved in the “play” that can spiral into a dog fight.  I’ve witnessed this happen on many occasions and that is why I do not frequent a small/enclosed park with my two pets.

5. When concrete is used exclusively as ground cover in dog parks, it posses a “footing” problem in winter for both pets and humans.  Think about maneuvering those stairs in the “gassy” in winter months OR how about just standing at the top of the stairs and letting your pet use the area as a litter box!  Do we really want to encourage more of this and yes, this space is consistently used in that way!

6.  One of the more important issues is to caution our neighbors whether fellow dog owners or not, that use of the gassy as a short cut down to the children’s playground below could possibly expose children to the larvae of parasites that our companion dogs maybe passing.  I make this “special note” not to panic people but, just to know this is possible.  Rain could flush the parasitic larvae into the children’s play areas.  Hosing the gravel could do the same!  Do your own research by frequenting other dog parks and notice that pairing dog parks with children’s playgrounds is truly uncommon!

Finally, I too support the idea of a dog park in our neighborhood.  Sure would be convenient rather than driving to Somerville or walking over the bridge to Charlestown in bad weather!  There are dog parks that encourage exercise and those that are litter boxes.  What is it that we are after?  Let’s do it the right way once, with thought!  It’s not about convenience for the owner or dog walker.  It is about the needs of dogs in the inner city!  If we want a true exercise area let’s take the time to consider other spaces.  Consider the cost of gravel on flat surfaces, a poop station with bags and a couple of heavy steel garbage cans, a hosing or sprinkler system, a concrete/stone water fountain at mid dog level and, a small three-sided lean to within the park so that dogs can get out of the sun.  Can we do that with the space potentially available at Haymarket?  Are there other spaces yet to explore?

Pidg (Maria Ciampa) welcomes commentaries on community issues via email to Opinions are those solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of or other writers on this site. Responses to this commentary can be posted below in the comment section.

25 Replies to “The Gassy (Flights) as a Dog Park?

  1. This was a very informative piece. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Everyone should be supporting RUFF”S efforts. Don’t get sidetracked because some professional dog walkers want a “litter box” which is more convenient for them. RUFF has done it’s homework. The people who are talking about the Gassy flights obviously have not.

  2. Interesting article, which brought to mind issues that I, myself, had not thought of. Am I to assume that you are working with RUFF? Lots to consider for our dogs – and RUFF is working very diligently on this project. Thanks for the article.

  3. This is not the proper space for a dog park… A few weeks ago there was a story that people were upset that a man had his dogs in the area of the gassy marked “no dogs allowed” I feel as if having a dog park there would bring more dogs to the park and this problem will happen more. I feel a dog park is a good idea but not right next to the playground where children play and where people go to play basketball and other sports

  4. No dog park at gassy. Too many seriously immune deficient humans live across the street on snow hill ,prince, and hull sts.
    To much noise at night already. To dangerous at night for anyone too even be in that park. Unless they are up to no good. I would be very surprised if bpd approved.
    Ruff has a good safe for all souls plan

    1. As a resident of Snow Hill – I find your description of my neighbors and me to be offensive. Just as good that you want to stay out of our neighborhood.

      I am not a dog owner, but am impacted significantly as an abutter to the Gassy. We need a safe area for pets in this area of the North End which is segregated from children’s play areas. Parcel 12 is a wonderful idea as a place for exercise but it too far for those quick, but necessary walks. Pidg’s “downside” points regarding the Gassy as a dog park are well presented; where are better alternatives??

      1. Richmond st park! quick “necessary walks” do not have to take place in a park. People just need to learn how to pick up the dog poop and not let their dogs pee on peoples entry ways…restaurants, retail stores, residences. Isn’t that what firehydrants are for when they are not being used to fight fires.?

        1. Exactly. It really is that simple: Keep them out of areas designated for (human) children and pick up after them. I know that most people on this forum “get” that, but it’s amazing to me how many don’t.


    Here is a great example of a well run dog park in the South End called Peter’s Park. It’s a small hike from the North End, but we used to go there quite frequently to meet a friend from that neighborhood who owned a dog close by. We always looked forward to going there (even though we do not own a dog ourselves). My boyfriend and I found it very pleasant and full of people who looked very fortunate to be enjoying the space. It looks like a great model to follow. For the most part, we saw happy dogs and responsible owners sharing a great space together in the city.

    If you have some spare time to venture south, I recommend a trip there. The park is directly behind the SoWa Open Market near Harrison Avenue.

  6. To: Marisa

    No I am not working with Ruff but I did help circulate a petition for them because I believe in what they’re
    doing and because from what I’ve seen, they are concerned about our neighborhood and our pets. I’m truly impressed with their actions thus far. Headed up a dog initiative 2 yrs ago that Aaron Michowitz (sp?)
    got me involved with but, was frustrated by the lack of support. I think the Ruff collaborative is made up of some movers and shakers and, I’m not opposed to helping out where I can. Pidg (Maria Ciampa)

  7. Dog park in the N.E.? absolutely Dog park in the gassy no way. In fact the “flights” should be leveled what purpose do they serve other then provide a safe haven for the drinking and other illegal activities that occur there? No -one in their right mind would or should walk thru that park at night!

  8. Dog Park on the corner of Commercial and Richmond. That’s owned by the city, right? It’s flat. And no one is using it.

    1. What dog park at the corner of COmmercial and RIchmond? I thought that park space was privately owned by 145 Commercial St not the city.

  9. not to sound like a debby downer just be very careful with the germs in the dog park.. I took my dog to the dog park in my city at first im thinking wow this is great he can socialize a little bit..he picked up parasites from the park. who knew? the cucky was picked up but some must of been left behind..he was so sick I almost lost him.. so I just have decided to just walk him pick up his cucky ..spray were he went and go on my more dog park for my baby..the scare of him getting so sick I rather he be a spoiled baby at home than a sociable dog..good luck what ever gets decided..

    1. This topic isn’t very pleasant to discuss but it’s important. There is a condition called coprophagy it’s the medical term for dogs eating other dogs feces.The bottom line is that PEOPLE NEED TO PICK UP AFTER THEIR DOGS.It is inexcusable and disrespectful not to do so.Just like some people should not have children some people should not own dogs.So Jo Ann it isn’t the dog park you went to thats at fault it is the irresponsible owners who refuse to cooperate.

  10. I understand that the kids in the neighborhood drink and make noise in the gassy and that’s wrong but I think saying it’s dangerous to walk through there is a bit extreme… Iv walked my dog through there at night and the kids are actually pretty friendly towards me and my dog

    1. The danger is not from the kids drinking.The danger is from the drug dealing activity at the top of the flights on Snow Hill St and the characters that frequent there.

  11. All this talk about Parcel 12 vs.The Gassy Flights is such incredible nonsense. No question, Parcel 12 is a good idea, but owned by the MA DOT and has hurdles to get over, however The Flights are already owned by the city and could be a fast track solution. Right now the flights are a haven for drugs and public drinking and would be better served as a better place for man’s best friend….let’s face it, dogs don’t drink or do drugs! Why can’t we focus on both of these proposed locations and let the chips fall as they may? C’mon people, the flights and the children’s lower part of the DeFellipo Park are far enough away from each other to find a wayto deal with the sanitary issues. If it gets the green light, the responsible dog owners will undoubtedly make it a success like they did at The Richmond Street Park and the plan for The Flights will more than likely get lighting, donations and traffic from peeps that will move the druggies and boozers out.

    1. The Parks Dept. has already publicly said that current rules do not allow it to hand over park land for dog parks so the Gassy is not a “fast track solution.” It just seems that way to people who haven’t researched it. If you want to address the problems in the Gassy, focus on that. Don’t dilute Ruff’s efforts by hijacking their idea to address other neighborhood issues. If there are hurdles with DOT and Parcel 12, the neighborhood needs to band together and push to get the dog park established. It can happen if everyone works together. If people go off on tangents, it won’t happen.

  12. PJ. I support the parcel 12 proposal because the flights are not adequate for a dog park more importantly we don’t need to convert the flights to a dog park to “hopefully” remove the people who drink and do drugs there.These people and this situation should have been taken care of long ago and as Ive said before the only people who apparently aren’t aware of what goes on in the gassy are the BPD.

    1. The gassy has been a drinking drug dealing ever sinse the 60’s this is nothing new police would come and go and it’s still happening not a revalation The poor dogs need a better cleaner place to run not in such a confined area Not siding with anyone just my opinion

      1. My memories of the gassy of the sixties is quite different than Corinne’s I recall the gassy being packed with people playing softball and people watching the games from the sidewalk at night and especially on the weekends,I don’t recall broken bottles and dog crap everywhere.It was a place where teenagers who would form groups could go and sing doo-wap and acapella and a lovers lane [without cars] for teenage couples. Junkies were underground, out of sight and nowhere near as brazen as they are today.Of course some kids were drinking in the neighborhood but there were not large groups of kids doing what they do today.The thought of someone disposing a needle in public would have never happened then.

  13. Michael, I support Parcel 12 as well, but feel that we can have a place for dogs at The Gassy flights as well. If the BPD isn’t aware of what’s going on with crime at The Gassy, then shame on the local politicians for not demanding more attention to the problem.

    1. Did you not read the article about why the concrete flights ARE NOT SUITABLE for a dog park?
      We do not need three dog parks in the North End anyway. ( four if you include the defacto Christopher Columbus Doggie park ) Maybe you and the other dog owners who live near the Gassy should get some exercise and walk to Richmond St AND support the efforts of RUFF to get the unused parcel 12 as a dog park.

  14. The gassy has become such a nasty place, irresponsible dog owners or not. The flights have been a dumping ground for used syringes and brokern glass. Why would dog owner in their right mind want to expose their dog to those kind of hazards. Once the snow meltedn it was quite obvious that there were a plethora of irresponsible dog owners who refused to pick up after their dogs. Just the other day I saw a woman with a dog on the lower level where the swings are have her dog run aroun there. The dog then alleviated himself and the woman did not pick up. Another dog walker called her out on it and the woman’s response was quoite snarky. I have been told that woman does it quite often. I say take a picture when this happens and post them where everyone can see the culprits that give responsible dog owners and walkers a bad name.

    All that said, we definately are in need of a dog park here if not this problem will only get worse. I did notice that a dispenser of bags was installed on the top level of the gassy, but even with bags now readily available there will still be those who refuse to pick up after their dogs.

    As a life long resident here I often say to myself “What has the North End come to? Between the trash situation and irrespeonsible dog owners, what kind of people are moving here or live here? I am all for gentrification but seriously, back in the day, our mothers and grandmothers used to scrub the side walks with disinfectant after washing their front stairs and sweeping. I could rant about this until the cows come home but it is what it is. The only way some of these people are going get a wake up call is if they are exposed. I for one will not hesitate to take a picture whenever I see this kind of stuff. I wonder how some of these people would feel if their front lawn was used as a doggie toilet back in suburbia where they came from????

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