When I was a young girl growing up in the neighborhood, the Gassy (DeFillipo Park) as we called it, was a wonderful place to hang out.  On any given day, dozens of kids could be found playing on one of the many structures, swinging on the swings or running around playing games of tag.  The “Flights” as they were affectionately known, was the part of the playground where stairs took you to two different levels and out to the intersection of Hull and Snowhill Streets.  It was an area of the playground that was used by teens and others to engage in activities that they wanted hidden from adults. Younger kids knew not to venture up and the older kids who were there always shooed them away if they tried.  It was our neighborhood understanding.

As the North End changed, so did the Gassy.  The Prince St. play area has been renovated and is still used daily by children and families.  The biggest change has been to the Flights. What was one a haven for illicit escapades, it has now been replaced with one of the best dog parks in the city.  Thanks to the vision of responsible dog owners, we now have a neighborhood dog association, RUFF. They have been instrumental in creating this confined, safe space where dogs can run off leash, play and socialize with other dogs.  

As a new dog owner, this park has been our happy place.  RUFF does an amazing job maintaining the grounds, hosting activities for dogs and their owners and most importantly, fostering and enforcing responsible dog ownership for North End residents.

On Wednesday afternoon, the dog park was filled with many dogs getting some much needed pre-travel exercise. It was to our dismay when suddenly, a neighborhood dad with a gaggle of kids just dismissed from the Eliot school, decided that he would “cut through” the park, entering from street entrance.  He was stopped at the second gate and asked not to enter. Owners tried to explain to him that the dogs were off leash (as they could be) and that because he had young children with him, they did not feel it was a good idea. They were met with resistance, arrogance and entitlement. “This is a public park and I have the right to walk through it if I want.”

The fact of the matter is that, yes, he does have that right. There have been several times when kids have wandered up the stairs from the playground into the dog space and I told them they had to leave (it takes a village). There was also another time when a sweet couple walked up to the gate and asked if they could come in to sit and watch the dogs play.  They were thinking of getting a dog. But why would anyone want to cut through a dog park with children in tow? There are several signs at the entrance that list the rules and one that clearly warns about the possibility of transmitted disease by dog waste. Not to mention the fact that by walking down Snowhill or Hull Streets, you can easily get to the playground level. 

In the end, after some intense but polite verbal exchanges, dog owners stood their ground. The dad reluctantly turned himself and his tribe of kids around and walked back up the stairs and exited the park.  

We live in a small neighborhood and must respect the rules of coexistence.   It is not always easy. Not everyone follows the rules or agrees with them. For those of us who do, the expectation for others to do the same is not too much to ask. 

 

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17 COMMENTS

    • Cut through the playground? No, they aren’t. it’s a wild thought that dog owners are walking through the actual playground as a detour to get to the flights.

      • Check the archives of the guy flipping the bird to photographer obviously in the Gassy with a no dogs sign in the picture. Pretty wild picture. You can still find the article.

  1. Thanks for writing and it is commendable that there is a separate dog park designated. I disagree with the Dad but have that table turned on me by dog owners constantly. Too bad the Columbus Park and parts of the Greenway have become unauthorized dog parks with many off leash dogs and entitled owners. I gave up enjoying these areas years ago after many ruined picnics, etc.

    • As a dog owner who also lives right near CCP, I agree with you 100%. It drives me batty when owners let their dogs off leash there. I never see anyone enforcing it otherwise.

  2. This is an important note to make! As a dog-owner and frequent user of the DiFillipo playground, it is very frustrating when children/families feel free to pass through the dog park. There have been many instances of children, unattended (and even worse, with their parents) coming into the park and leaving the gates open. It is not fair to the dogs, as they could get loose/injured, and if my dog scares/bothers a child, my dog will be at fault. This park was designed to provide a safe space for dogs to enjoy, out of the children’s play spaces. Just as my dog stays out of the children’s park, people without dogs do not belong in the dog park.

  3. Dog owners are so pretentious.

    Us non dog owners find it very annoying and disruptive when dog owners take their giant wild dogs through the gassy by all the children on their way to the dog park.

    So if you want to play this game and “coexist” then maybe you should take your dog through the snow hill st side and not through the gassy. I wish the father held his own.

    Oh btw, us non-dog owners find it annoying when your dogs pee all over the neighborhood.

    • The Gassy is a public park with walkways to get to the dog park. You’re a special kind of human if you have a problem with dogs walking past a playground.

      • The gassy is a public walkway, well so is the dog park. If a father wants to cut through with his children he has just as much a right, actually more of a right, than the person walking their dog through the gassy.

        And yes I do have an issue with people every single day walking their dogs unleashed through the gassy with children playing. I have an issue with dogs peeing right next to the kids playground every single day.

    • The park looks great relative to what it was, but the contours don’t support clean drainage. There is no drain in the center. When there is a rain, water flows down hill naturally. This collects all the dog waste and flushes it to the lowest point. When it reaches the wall, it all seeps down and leaches to the playground. If you were talking about your well, you need to place it so that it is a safe distance from you septic’ leach and up hill if the property is on a slope. Has anyone checked to see that the playground isn’t contaminated?

  4. The “flights” were always a great place for north end kids to hang out. It’s a shame that they turned it into a dog park and even more of a shame that a group of dog owners disallowed people to walk through. Who do they think they are? The mafia?

    I agree Noah. Their is pee and poop all over the neighborhood. Truly disgusting!

  5. The flights were infested with heroin use among many other illegal things. They had been a fun place for teens a long time ago but had turned into something more sinister. They were also used as the only public restrooms in the neighborhood. RUFF and the dog owners have done a real service to the neighborhood turning around the flights by cleaning and inhabiting the park at all times.

    Separately, a group of kids should not be parading through the dog park. But what if a kid loves dogs and her parent takes her into the dog park to meet them? What’s wrong with that?

    I think COMMON SENSE is the theme, and the title of this article.

    Rats pee all over the neighborhood too. Is Noah as bothered by that as the dog urine? That comment was just ridiculous.

    • I am going to get my child and walk through the dog park next weekend. I pray that someone tells me I can’t go up there because I will teach them something about manners and respect for others. Verbally of course 😉

  6. Have to agree with neighbor. Back in the day the Gassy & the Flights were a place for softball games & teenagers hanging out. But the Flights became a place where teenage drinking & drugging and God knows what else was going on and not a safe place to even walk through. I’ll take a dog park any day.🐕

  7. A few years ago my old friends and I had a reunion,, we hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years at least,,we all hung up the gassy ,, we were on the second ledge,, we drank Boone’s wine,, smoked our cigarettes,, someone would always have a joint and smoke that,, if the second ledge was dirty we cleaned it up ourselves,, we didn’t want to be in dirt,,ahh getting sidetracked,, ok so we wanted to go up to the *flights* which is the second ledge,, and we were told we couldn’t go up there because it’s a dog park,, we just wanted to sit there and be 15 years old again for only 15 minutes,, the man was very snooty about his dog park and his flights,,back in the day my friends and I probably would of told him to go we’re the sun don’t shine but as respectable adults because we were brought up the right way and it really wasn’t worth it,, I’m glad they have a dog park and in all honesty I don’t know how many people have dogs now in the north end,,we couldn’t get one ,our apartment was to small as my mother would say it wasn’t fair to the dog,,I do remember tippy the beagle who belonged to the laurentanos who was the neighborhood dog he’d walk around the block and go home,, the green cross had a dog ,, circle pizza there was a dog and anco had a dog,, maybe 10 dogs they were a rare thing in the north end,,and the savings had a huge Great Dane Hungus,, lol,, one thing we were respectful didn’t do bad things with the exception once in a while on a Saturday night

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