Ronan dog park effort close to the bone

p>When most people get a dog, they weigh the benefit of a "best friend" against a dog food bill, plastic baggy duty and the likelihood of a few chewed up shoes and pillows. What some don't expect - outside of a few calculating bachelors - is automatic membership in a neighborhood subculture of fellow dog-owners.

That canine-keeper camaraderie is what neighborhood activist Paige Davis and others had in mind when they came up with the idea for a dog park in an under-used portion of Ronan Park, underneath the basketball courts. Make a place for dogs, and their owners will get to know each other better. Instant community builder.

Easier said than done, it turns out.

Building a dog run in a public park involves quite a bit more than a corral, a gate, and "CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG" sign. There's rainwater run-off to think about, choosing the right gravel for easy clean-up is key, and what about one of those plastic baggy dispensers and a place to sit?

The amount dog-park rooters hoped to have in pocket this week - as they get ready to apply to the parks department for the appropriate hearing and consideration - was $100,000. At last count on Tuesday they had $31,000 from various sources, including a $10,000 Small Changes Grant from the city, and were hoping for the best.

"Our group is a really good group, our community is great, but we're not really good fundraisers," Davis said in a phone interview this week. "I'm hoping somebody out there who loves dogs and loves Dorchester will want to help us."

Council President Maureen Feeney and other pols have been big supporters of the dog park, which was one of several ideas that were born shortly after park activist and neighbor John Beresford was stabbed to death there after confronting a pair of muggers on May 10, 2005. The homicide is still unsolved.

The dog park, its proponents say, would bring activity to an un-used part of the park where many have reported seeing "drug deals" and other suspicious activity going on. In fact, they've published a list of reasons at

Davis expects a hearing take place sometime soon, possibly in late July or in August.

"We would really like, by the time of the hearing, to know where the money is going to come from," said Davis.