THE NEW SIGN for the Peter J. May Memorial Dog Park was unveiled at dedication ceremonies on Saturday. From left, Connor May, Town Councilor Jonathan Chines, Eileen Shannon and Town Councilor Ann Santos. (Mark Sardella Photo)

 

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — The dedication of the Peter J. May Memorial Dog Park on Saturday was blessed with a window of perfect fall weather between weekend storms. It was a fitting tribute under bright sunny skies and mild autumn temperatures.

As a town councilor, May was the driving force behind the creation of the dog park at 667 Main St. in the Junction. A lifelong dog-lover, he was moved by citizens’ pleas for a place where their canine friends could frolic safely off-leash. May was determined to make it happen for the town’s two-legged and four-legged residents.

So, when Peter May passed away last month after battling ALS for more than two years, his colleagues on the Town Council knew the best way to honor the man whose love for his town and its residents was unconditional.

“To have known Peter was to have known a genuine champion of the people of Wakefield,” May’s fellow Town Councilor Ed Dombroski told the crowd at Saturday’s dedication that included May’s wife, Eileen Shannon and his son, Connor May. “He was thoughtful and poised with an unflappable calmness and ‘steady handedness’ that would be the envy of any elected official. But most of all Peter was dedicated. Dedicated to all of us. Peter truly cared about working to make Wakefield an even better place for all of us to call home. We thank you, Eileen and Connor, for sharing your husband and father with our town.

“Early in his time as a then-Selectman,” Dombroski continued, “Peter recognized the opportunity this unique site offered. An opportunity he envisioned to create a place for our community, where neighbors and friends could come together to enjoy the company of others. A place for residents with two legs and four, alike. And what a great vision Peter had.

“There’s a real energy here,” Dombroski observed, “not just excited dogs enjoying the company of other breeds, but a real feeling of social connection for all who pass through these gates. This park has succeeded in bringing people together in a most unique way — people of all different backgrounds, experiences, religions, political beliefs and identifies gather here as one. At a time when it’s easy to become discouraged by the divisiveness we often see on social media or in the news, we’re fortunate to have this place, a ‘town square’ of sorts, where we can make meaningful connections and form closer bonds with our Wakefield neighbors. That is true community-building…thanks to our four-legged companions who bring us together.”

To sing “America the Beautiful,” Dombroski introduced Wakefield Memorial High School senior Katie Pratt, who is assistant student director of the WMHS a capella group, “Voices of Steel.” She is also captain of the Wakefield High swim team and secretary of her school’s National Honor Society Chapter among other accomplishments.

Next, Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio reflected on “how privileged I was to meet Peter, how privileged I was to serve under him and how privileged I was to be his friend.”

 

PETER MAY and canine friends.

 

Maio talked about scouting locations for a new dog park with May before settling on the present location.

“This has brought so much joy to the community in a very tangible way,” Maio said of the park. “This is part of his legacy.”

Town Council Chair Julie Smith-Galvin called May “the truest reflection of a public servant. This dog park is a tangible symbol of that service,” she added, calling it “a reminder that one person can care and make a difference for the community.”

Dombroski introduced Connor May, who spoke of his father’s commitment to the town of Wakefield.

“My dad was all about the “W,” he said, and was someone who understood that community is about more than just paying your property taxes. “It’s recognizing that you have a responsibility to give back to your community in your own way with your own gifts.”

Connor May called the naming of the Dog Park for his father “truly an honor. The values that it takes to build a dog park like this – the commitment, the value of community and responsibility — were all values that are emblematic of who my dad was.”

Dombroski then called forward Peter May’s wife Eileen, son Connor and members of the Town Council to unveil the new sign for the Peter J. May Memorial Dog Park.