Let’s talk dog parks…

In recent weeks the Commission has received numerous emails from neighbors near Williamsburg Park.  A debate has resulted from a petition from neighbors near the park that would like to see the park become a “dog friendly” area.  Other neighbors are concerned about the play area being affected by the dogs (friendly or not) that would be welcomed into the park if the ordinance was amended.

Again, this was spurred on by neighbors exercising a process that this Commission highly values.  If you want something to be considered/amended like a restriction on a park, gain support by getting a petition and bring it to the Commission and we review/allow for public comment and make a decision.  I highly commend this process and even though the debate gets difficult at times, I personally welcome it.

Our ordinance refers to our parks not allowing dogs in parks or parklets except for Bird and Robb Hollow Park.  If you look at the entrance of most parks, a sign should be displayed and whether you are surprised by this fact or not, you need to understand if you walk your dogs in our parks or parklets you can be fined.

On Monday we received information from the staff that each park in Mt Lebanon will be looked at to ensure correct signage is located at each park.

Unfortunately some residents have acquired the habit of not picking up after their animals which results in Bird Park field and other walking areas dirty with piles of dog feces.   Another issue Mt Lebanon faces far too often are some residents are bringing dogs to parks that are not considered “friendly” to the general public and owners are allowing these dogs off leash.  Dog fighting has occurred and we run the risk of people getting hurt.  Again both circumstances are a simple case of a few ruining a benefit to the whole by not following rules and making common sense decisions.

I would like to remind residents about the reason why I initially presented a plan for Robb Hollow Park which includes a traditional dog park area near Cedar Blvd.  I think having a dog park in Mt Lebanon can address the needs raised by the debate for Williamsburg Park and our community can have a designated spot for dogs to play off leash.  This could alleviate any stress on our local parks/parklets and rather than going to South Park, residents can drive or hopefully walk over to Robb Hollow to take their friendly pooches to the park for a playdate.

With community input, Commissioners would have to look at other dog parks in the area/region/nationally for how various dog parks are run and maintained long-term.

Here are some ideas and options that I have heard about—

#1  Communities have donated the land to a nonprofit that “rents” the area and coordinates the dog park.  Guidelines and regulations would be enforced by the nonprofit with the Municipality’s oversight.  The nonprofit in turn has “members” submit an application with dog records and pay a small fee maybe $20 for the year to go towards maintenance.

#2  Communities have completely donated or sold land to a nonprofit that completely takes “ownership” of the land privately.

#3 Communities designate a dog park and raise private funds to build the park and leave the use of the park on a honor system.

#4  Communities designate an area as a dog park and the municipality runs and acquires full ownership for the park.

Any of these options are possible and good ideas for individual communities, but what is good for us?  That’s the question.

I would like to hear your input, please feel free to email me at kelly@kellyfraasch.com.