Barking Dogs Cause Reston Neighbors To Threaten Suit Against Park

by Karen Goff February 19, 2014 at 9:30 am 2,368 38 Comments

For more than 15 years, the off-leash dog park at Reston’s Baron Cameron Park has been a place for dog owners to let the pets frolic freely and play with other dogs in a safe, enclosed area.

Enough, says a group of nearby residents. They say the dog park is a noisy nuisance and they want it to go away.

The families have hired an attorney to file a lawsuit against Reston Dogs, Inc., the dog park’s supporting group, as well as Fairfax County Park Authority, which owns Baron Cameron Park.  The people upset about the noise live  in the Longwood Grove subdivision, which is separated from the dog run by a buffer area of trees, as well as four lanes of Wiehle Avenue.

“My firm represents several residents in the Longwood Grove neighborhood located across the street from the Baron Cameron OLDA [off-leash dog area],” wrote attorney Zachary Williams of the firm Bean, Kinney & Korman. “The operation of this dog park has caused these residents to suffer constant and excessive nuisance noise for many years.”

More from Williams:

Barking dogs at the dog park continue to seriously impact the quality of life for my clients on a daily basis. Incessant barking regularly awakens my clients in the early morning hours and continues throughout the day and evening. In recognition of this problem, the Park Authority recently installed noise mitigation fencing around a portion of the dog park in an attempt to dampen the noise. Unfortunately, the new fencing has had little effect on the impact of the dog park noise for my clients.

At this time, my clients firmly believe that the only way to fix this problem is to close and/or move the Baron Cameron dog park to a new location. Given the ongoing Baron Cameron Master Plan revision process, now is an opportune time to close the dog park so that this area of Baron Cameron Park can be redeveloped in a manner that is compatible with surrounding neighborhoods.

Williams, who did not return phone calls from Reston Now, said the residents have been expressing concerns to Reston Dogs and the park authority for years and have now run out of patience.

Baron Cameron Park is in the midst of a new master plan process, which could add more features to the park as well as change the configuration. One conceptual plan has the dog park moving to a spot farther into the interior of the park. Some residents of the same Longwood Grove neighborhood have also been outspoken against the idea of building an indoor recreation center with a 50-meter-pool in the park. They cite noise, traffic issues and loss of green space among their concerns.

Park Authority Chair Bill Bouie, a Reston resident, says the county has listened to the affected residents and installed the noise-reducing fencing. He also said the county has done its own tests and found no measurable noise coming from the park.

“The traffic noise on Wiehle is louder than the dog noise,” said Bouie.

The dog park regulars agree. On a recent Tuesday morning, about a half-dozen dogs rolled and played in the snow with only an occasional bark. One owner, a dog park regular, said the scene was “very normal.”

“When a dog barks, most owners are on it,” said Matt Taylor, there with his dog Pebbles. “There is going to be a certain amount of barking at a dog park, though.”

John Vockley, also a daily park visitor with his mixed breed, Taylor, says the dog run is just not that close to the homes.

“Those homes are across a main street,'” he said. “I can’t tell what they are hearing that is so loud and onerous they can’t deal with it. I think there is nothing in the park that rises to the county’s excessive noise ordinance level.”

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