BAR HARBOR, Maine — Mount Desert Island might be getting its first park specifically created for dogs.
The Bar Harbor’s Town Council agreed Tuesday to let a local group use a town-owned lot next to the ballfields on Main Street as a dog park. But the group still has to raise funds, design the space, get town approval for the design and then build it before Fido has a place to run around.
There are some publicly accessible places on MDI and elsewhere in Hancock County where dogs are allowed off leash as long as their owner maintains control, but few if any places that are designed specifically for supervised dog use within a fenced area. Acadia National Park requires all dogs to be on leashes no more than six feet long.
The idea of a fenced-in dog park in Bar Harbor where dogs and their owners can socialize with others has been floated for months, with a few locations considered. But the local residents behind Friends of Bar Harbor Dog Park decided that a town-owned site on Main Street, directly adjacent to where there are baseball fields, a skate park, a basketball court and tennis courts, is a good site because of its central location and similar adjacent activities.
The council voted unanimously to sign a memorandum of understanding with the group that allows the group to pursue development of a dog park on the undeveloped dirt lot sometimes used for parking.
Enoch Albert, Sharon Knopp and Jeff Miller told the council that the only concern that has been expressed is about potential noise, but that dogs playing with each other at dog parks do not bark as much as people might expect. Dogs bark more when they are left on their own in backyards, and the other activities at the ballfields already are pretty noisy, they said.
“You’re talking about a place where there is constant noise,” Miller said, adding that the dog park would be closed at night. “You’re talking about a place where helicopters land.”
Lifeflight helicopters, which sometimes use the ballfields to transport patients to or from nearby MDI Hospital, are infrequent but can come and go at any time of day or night.
Albert said the site, at the southeast corner of the ballfields, is separated from a nearby motel and houses by woods and by Cromwell Brook, which would help serve as a buffer to the neighborhood.
Members of the council noted that, in the written agreement between the town and the group, the town will own the dog park and will have the right to dismantle it if, by a majority vote of the council, the town decides that it has “become a hazard, nuisance, or otherwise desirable” for another use.
Councilor Gary Friedman said he feels like having a dog park by the ballfields is consistent and compatible with the other multiple uses that happen there throughout the year, many of which draw a lot of people.
“To me, this is another form of recreation,” Friedman said.