Until recently, the only way Burlington dog owners could allow their pets to run free was to break the law! The city’s leash law is still very much in effect. But the opening of the Starr Farm dog park in December 2001 marked a new era of freedom for dogs and their human companions.

The park didn’t come into being overnight. During the late 1990s, as the city’s population grew, dog owners began to see the need for a safe park area dedicated to their use. Citizens signed and presented petitions to the City Council requesting the creation of off-leash dog areas in April 2000. In response, the Council authorized creation of five areas, under a pilot program.

How to fund this ambitious program? By increasing the dog license fee by $5, about $10,000 was generated. The dog park was off and running.

Burlington Parks and Recreation Department began installing fencing and special gates during late autumn of 2001. In mid-December, the Starr Farm Off-Leash Area opened quietly. As winter gave way to mud season, word began to spread about the new two-acre park near the lake in the New North End.

May 2002 saw the addition of such amenities as landscaping, a water hydrant, picnic tables, and a dedicated parking lot. Volunteers pitched in to help make it work. Today, Starr Farm Dog Park is a vibrant gathering place, where people as well as dogs come to meet friends, make new ones, and build a sense of community.