Peters Park Dog Run History
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
The Joe Wex Dog Recreation Space (DRS) opened on November 4th, 2007 and is Boston’s first city-sanctioned off leash dog-park. Our “Grand Unleashing” came after years of volunteer support and donations, and the DRS continues to be one of Boston’s safest, cleanest, and most beautiful off-leash spaces for dogs (and their owners). The DRS provides a space in which dogs can run, play and socialize. It has over 13,000 square feet of space (including a separately enclosed @3,000 square feet for small dogs). The Joe Wex DRS is dedicated to promoting responsible dog ownership and fostering community and neighborhood development.
The dog run however didn’t - just appear, it had many dedicated neighbors overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to make this canine oasis a dream come true.
The Peters Park Dog Recreation Space had humble beginnings. In the early 1990s, dog owners pooled their resources and erected a fence in part of Peters Park in an area that owners had for dogs to run free. The area was larger than the existing dog run and ran from Bradford Street to Washington Street. There was a small Community garden in the center.
City Councilor, Mike Ross spearheaded an effort to develop an ordinance which would allow for legal dog recreation spaces in the City. A number of South Enders testified at the Council hearings to express support. The DRS ordinance passed and the Peters Park dog run was ‘grandfathered’ in for two years while we worked to gain official status.
A group of people who used the Peters Park dog run then began the lengthy process of meeting the requirements to build the DRS, the dog park. At the heart were Joe Wex, Randi Cohen and Doug Lester. Peters Park was was slated for general refurbishment by the City during this time, so the community worked with the Parks Commission and planners to identify needed improvements in several areas of the park in addition to a play space for the dogs.
They were also joined by a large group of enthusiastic volunteers as well as committed community organizations and businesses, including the Boston Parks and Recreation Commission, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, James and Thea Stoneman, GTI Properties, David Hacin and many others.”
The ordinance required our getting support from the community and elected officials and it required full private funding. There was some early opposition given that the Peters Park DRS was a test case for Boston. Dog recreation spaces had been successfully launched and operated in many other cities, including New York but there was concern about whether or not it would work well in the South End. Once Peters Park DRS proved itself, it became easier for other neighborhoods in Boston to propose, approve and fund their own projects. Joe Wex had always felt that with its strong sense of community and financial resources the South End could lead the way.
It took two years to gain DRS status with the Parks Department, plan the space and raise over $360,000 to fund the construction. During this process, Joe Wex passed away suddenly. The Peters dog community named the DRS in honor of Joe Wex for his love of dogs and his tireless efforts to build the City’s first sanctioned Dog Park. For a more information on "The Joe Wex story" please go to the special tab in his honor found by clicking on the Dog Park tab from the home page.
The Joe Wex DRS was dedicated in November, 2007, at ‘The Grand Unleashing’ where Mayor Menino unhooked a ceremonial dog leash to open the entrance to throngs of happy dogs and their many supporters.
If anyone reading this has any additional background or insights into the early years of the dog park creation please do consider reaching out to us via the “Contact Us” tab noted on the Home Page of this website.
Hopefully this history will make all of us appreciate even more the privilege of having this park in our backyard.
Thank you to all those involved in making this Park a reality!