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Has Yale Divinity School gone to the dogs?

After months of sensitive negotiations involving prominent Yale University professors, Yale students, local attorneys and other residents of New Haven's upscale East Rock neighborhood, Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge has decided to allow a popular "dog park" on YDS property to remain open.

In a June 5 letter to interested parties, Attridge cited "diligent and thoughtful engagement" by proponents of the park as creating a consensus that the park is "an asset to community life and with the proper management can serve the needs of dog owners in the area without causing problems for its immediate neighbors."

Discussions about the status of the park-located at the base of a hill on the east side of YDS property-began after some nearby residents complained of barking and unsightliness. But now, after a series of meetings brokered by Attridge, there has been a meeting of the minds and a set of regulations worked out aimed at controlling barking and hours of operation.

The fenced-in park has been used for two decades as a place where canines can roam free and where their owners can socialize. Proponents of the park have argued that its benefits extend beyond the dog-and-owner community by generating the kind of neighborly activity that could discourage crime. The park is just blocks away from the spot where a female Yale student was stabbed to death in 1998.

"Each of the parties to the conversations about the Park exhibited openness, a willingness to listen attentively to the perspectives of other neighbors, and flexibility in reaching the needed consensus," said Attridge. "I congratulate all who participated in this process for the seriousness with which they took the enterprise and the good spirit that they displayed."

The next step for park supporters, with the blessings of the Divinity School, is to proceed with plans to use a community greenspace project grant under Yale's Urban Resources Initiative to help ensure the long-term stability and attractiveness of the park.