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Bliss for dogs on

The city Parks and Recreation Commission approved a plan Monday to establish five areas on Boston Common where dogs can run and play leash-free.

Under the plan, proposed by the Friends of the Public Garden and its Common Canine subcommittee, two of the areas will be used for a six-month ­period before the off-leash area is rotated to other sites.

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The rotation will ensure that the turf does not become too worn and allows the areas to be restored between uses.

A current off-leash area near the Joy Street steps will not be in use when the program starts so new grass can grow. No date has been set for the program to begin, but restoration of that area may start before the other areas are established.

Signs will be posted and trash cans added to the new off-leash sites. The friends group will be responsible for all costs for running and maintaining the spaces.

“I know it’s a very challenging park to try to do this in, but it’s also a park many, many hundreds, if not thousands, of dog owners are using,” Elizabeth Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public ­Garden, told the commission.

The sites range in size from 21,000 to 57,500 square feet. Three of the proposed sites are located near Beacon Street; two are near the Parkman Bandstand by Tremont Street.

While approving the plan, the commission raised concerns about enforcement of the rules and stipulated that it would review the success of the program six months after it ­begins.

“All of us are sympathetic to dogs wanting to run off-leash and have energy, and what not, but there is common courtesy, and the Common is for people without dogs as well,” said ­Susan Park, a Parks and Recreation commissioner.

Park Rangers can ticket pet owners for allowing their dog off-leash in nondesignated ­areas or for not picking up after their pets. But it will largely be the responsibility of the owners to make sure the rules are followed.

“This is going to require the folks that have come to this agreement to help us enforce it, and talk to dog owners and ­encourage dog owners to do the right thing,” Vizza said. She said the six-month terms will allow turf to be rested and restored, but that inform­ing people of policies is equally important.

Johanna Kaiser can be reached at Johanna.yourtown@
gmail.com.
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