Note: Neighbor Julie from Borderstan attended last night’s meeting on the 17th Street dog park at the DC Jewish Community Center. Following is Julie’s report.
First and foremost, NOTHING WAS RESOLVED regarding issues on the 17th Street dog park. No changes (from the government point of view) are likely to flow from this meeting. Commissioner Meehan, however, seemed eager to get some sort of resolution passed at tonight’s ANC meeting. I don’t believe there was enough of a consensus to make that possible.
Attendees numbered about 35. Emotions were running fairly high. While discussion could be heated, it remained civil. Many issues were brought up for discussion–though due to time limitations and the many points of view–the discussion focused primarily on operating hours of the park and the number of dogs allowed in the park at any one time. It was suggested that a follow-up meeting take place in 1 to 2 months to further discuss the issues and their suggested resolutions.
Commissioner Bob Meehan (ANC2/Dupont), Sara Moulton (DPR), Iris Molotsky (Friends of S and T Parks), and JJ (I don’t know her last name) from Circle Dogs comprised the panel.
Meehan indicated that the initial agreement between the parties discussing the creation of the park was that if the neighborhood decided that their quality of life was too negatively impacted by the dog park the park would REVERT TO A CHILDREN’S PARK–NO DOGS ALLOWED.
Highlights on Specific Issues
- Enforcement of Rules. Who is responsible? The focus should be on the development of a “culture of responsibility” by and between owners using the park. Dog park rules were distributed and are available online (PDF). Dog Exercise Area Tag Applications and Dog License Applications are also available online. If there is an issue on the grounds of the park (for example, a dog owner refusing to control his aggressive dog) one should notify the DC Urban Park Rangers via either 311 or 202-441-2605.
- Infrastructure. The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) representative indicated that any issues with the physical infrastructure of the park (the fence, turf, gates, lighting, etc.) be brought to the attention of DPR directly.
- Hours of Operation. It was suggested that the operating hours remain as they are until it can be shown that a culture of responsibility has developed within the dog park-user community to keep barking at a minimum, therefore proving to the immediate neighbors that extended hours won’t negatively affect their quality of life. DC regulations say the park can be open “not later than 10 p.m.”
- Opening and Closing. Currently it is Urban Park Rangers and an individual from Circle Dogs who open and close the dog park. It was suggested that Circle Dogs create a schedule of responsibility similar to the one Shaw Dogs has so that there can be consistency.
- Children in the Park. No real discussion took place due to time limitations.
- Capacity. The number of dogs allowed in the park at any one time. Current DC regulations say that there must be 450 square feet of park per dog. The park is 5500 square feet. That works out to 12.2 dogs. It was suggested that when the park is “at capacity” users limit their time in the park to no more than 20 minutes to allow others to have access. Think of the treadmill rule at the gym and you have the idea.
- Toys. It was suggested that dog toys not be allowed on the park since guarding issues pose a risk. Someone suggested that there might be a distinction between toys and tennis balls.
- Unaltered (un-neutered) Dogs. It was suggested that unaltered dogs (male and female) not be allowed in the park. Counter-arguments were made that bad behavior like humping and aggression are, like barking, and owner control issue.
– Julie of Borderstan