Editor's Note: This is another in the newspaper's series on city parks.

NEWBURYPORT — Moseley Woods is at the intersection of Merrimac and Spofford streets, and some newcomers find it a little difficult to access.

The entrance is off a much-traveled rotary and the opening in the aging stone walls is narrow.

But once there, visitors are happy they have arrived at the 18-acre retreat — especially if they have dogs.

It is an off-leash site for dog owners and is open for romping from dawn to dusk.

"This is a popular park for those who have dogs," said Michael Hennessey, municipal parks manager. "There are regulars who come here.

"The owners visit with each other and I think the dogs know each other, too."

Richard Canepa, who lives across from the park, said it has been a popular meeting spot for dog owners for many years.

"People love the park, those with dogs and also other visitors," said Canepa, a retired Pentucket teacher and coach. "There is a playground and lots of open space for kids."

He said numerous families and small groups have picnics on the wooden tables under the tall trees.

The property is adjacent to the Merrimack River and there are handsome views from the shore. But because of steep banks and large stones along the river, there is no access to the Merrimack.

Canepa even had a dog named Moseley.

"Years ago, my wife, Bev, saw a dog in the park with no owner and thought she'd bring it home for one night, and then the owner would return.

"She took the dog back to the park the next day but no one came. So, we took in the dog, a mongrel, named it Moseley, and we housed it for the next 12 or 14 years."

Canepa said they actually shared the dog with an elderly homeowner who lived adjacent to the park, Dee Kupka.

"Moseley would wake up in the morning, walk across the street, and spend the day with Dee. And then, Dee would call us at about 5:30 or 6 and say that Moseley was coming back," he said.

"The dog walked back across the street, had dinner and spent the night with us."

Moseley Woods — once known as Moseley Pines — was established in 1921. It is owned by the city and the Moseley Trust.

A weathered metal plaque near the entrance says it was "a generous gift of Charles W. Moseley, 1847-1920, one of his many benefactions for the health and happiness of the people of his native city."

Moseley was a wealthy businessman and philanthropist in Newburyport.

Several decades ago, the park had a few tennis courts but most of the acreage is now open space.

Hennessey said crews from the Parks Department spent much of last winter pruning and trimming trees.

"There was an tree inventory done, and the tree company said that the value of trees in the park is about $5 million," Hennessey said. "In winter, we spend time focused on the health of the trees.

"It's a valuable asset, and part of our mission to keep our trees as healthy as possible."

The city owns and operates about two dozen parks, and one goal is constant upgrades.

Parks Director Lise Reid said improvements are being considered.

"The current plans for Moseley is to renovate the lawn that was so badly damaged when it was used as a staging ground for roundabout construction," Reid said. 

 "We would like to see it used as a picnicking area and as a multisport field," she said. "Flag football used to be played there but no longer can be until it is in safer condition."

Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport. He can be reached at 978-961- 3149 or at dhendrickson@newburyportnews.com.


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