Reston Dog Park Neighbors File Court Order Asking For Shutdown

by Karen Goff March 12, 2014 at 9:00 am 4,518 38 Comments

A group of residents of Reston’s Longwood Grove neighborhood has filed an injunction to shut down Baron Cameron Park’s Dog Park.

The dog park, which is open during daylight hours, is the only off-leash dog run in Reston. The neighbors filed the preliminary injunction last week in Fairfax County Circuit Court, saying the park “constitutes a private nuisance.”

“The dog park noise, mainly from unruly dogs barking and fighting, has grown to intolerable levels over the last two years and is likely to become even more severe in the spring and summer months,” says the court document.

The neighbors — named in the injunction as Moira Callaghan, Carrie Sawicki, Robert Sawicki, David Okerson, Barbara Okerson, Judith Strother and Kris Capps — say the noise begins at 5:30 a.m. and continues through the day and evening.

“On its worst days, the noise is incessant,” the document states. “The nuisance noise at the dog park disrupts the Longwood Grove Plaintiffs’ reasonable use and enjoyment of their properties.”

There are 100 homes in the Longwood Grove subdivision, but the complaint was brought by seven individuals representing five households.  A member of the plaintiff group declined to be interviewed for this article, as did Zachary Williams, the plaintiffs’ attorney.

In the complaint, it states that the Longwood Grove homes are 300-400 feet from the dog park. However, Wiehle Avenue, a busy, four-lane main road, along with a buffer of trees and a noise-reducing fence, separate the homes from the park.

Baron Cameron Park is owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority, which is named in the injunction.

Fairfax County Park Authority Board Chair Bill Bouie 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 recent Reston Master Plan revision says that an average of 41,000 cars travel through the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and Baron Cameron daily.

Also named in the injunction is Reston Dogs, a volunteer organization that organizes and operates the dog park.

“We obviously don’t agree with the facts as stated from the five families bringing the case, however, we take all of our neighbors perceptions about noise seriously,” said Tom Krasselt, a representative of Reston Dogs. He says that dog park users are respectful of one another and are quick to remove their pets if the barking gets out of control.

Krasselt says the dog park has been in Baron Cameron Park since 1991, a few years before the Longwood Grove homes were built.

The injunction cites several previous Virginia rulings dealing with the definition of a nuisance. It claims the plaintiffs are likely to suffer “irreparable harm  from the dogs barking and fighting in the dog park in the summer of 2014 as this case proceeds” and have no legal remedy other to quiet the noise other than to ask for an injunction to shut down the park.

The injunction says that several of the plaintiffs suffer from lack of sleep and extreme stress.

Baron Cameron is about to embark on changes in a new master plan process. There are two visions for the improved park, both of which include a dog park. However, one of the plans includes moving the dog area farther into the 68-acre park’s interior in order to make way for a large indoor pool and recreation center and additional parking.

There will be a public meeting on the Baron Cameron Park Master Plan process on March 27 at 7 p.m. at Buzz Aldrin Elementary School.

  • GW

    Really, those 5 Families should be more concern about the road noise then the dog barking. When Metro opens road noise will increase by a magnitude and start earlier in the morning and end later in the evenings.

  • Greendayer

    Once the dogs get past this opposable thumb issue, a counter suit will be forthcoming because of the people’s cars, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, etc.

  • Billy Smith

    These are the same families who feel that nothing should be done to the park, no matter what the rest of the community needs or desires. Its ridiculous, no dog park, no improved athletic fields, no lit ball fields. You should have moved to the country.

  • tc

    The park was there first, they moved into the parks neighborhood. I can’t imagine the dogs are worse than loud cars and motorcycles running up and down Wiehle. I don’t live near there, but if I did, I know what neighborhood I’d be walking through for my dog to do his business….

  • RK

    Wow really? Lack of sleep and stress? That isn’t due to a dog barking its due to your own life problems. Those people should get a dog. That will help with the stress. It may give them a better personality too.

    • Sarah Rose

      I completely agree. A lack of sleep and stress is not caused by a dog park that is well over 300-400 feet away, with a busy street, trees, and now a sound barrier in-between. So silly.

    • Diane Merna

      These people don’t deserve a dog! or children for that matter! They are too ignorant for either.

  • Charlotte Geary

    I agree that the dog park should be removed. It needs to be replaced with one that is much bigger and cleaner, with grass instead of gravel. Dogs need room to run around, and that gravel is painful and filthy.

    As for the noise, the complaints are absurd and selfish. If someone chooses to live next to a public park, they can’t expect silence.

    • Billy Smith

      I want a “LIKE” button!

    • Brian

      Grass will last 5 minutes. We would need a 10 acre park to support the number of dogs that use it regularly. We had grass initially and it was mud in 4 weeks.

  • Peechizz M. Botwin

    This is the most ridiculous article I’ve read in a long time.

    The benefits of this park, clearly outweigh the disadvantages these 5 homes see.

    I’ve been going there for years, I see kids learning to walk with their puppies, elderly people come out with their families, kids running around throwing balls, couples playing catch or frisbee with their pets, I mean really? Clearly people aren’t thinking about others in the community and their being extremely selfish while stating exaggerated claims.

    I live near a school, but I’m not going to complain about kiss and ride, and the children playing in the park.

    On the flip side, the attention these people are bringing to the park, could be just what we needed. This community has been pushing for updates for quite some time. This might be the first step in seeing that change/update take place.

    I hope the dog park never goes away, move it further back if you must, but don’t take away the only place we can go. It’s not fair. You can’t please everyone. Especially the ones who see issues in everything.

    • Peechizz M. Botwin

      Side Note:: Dogs are like children. To most of us, they are our children.
      They need to be entertained so they don’t get bored and start talking to one another, or “fighting” as they claim. If you added some different textures to the ground (gravel, grass, dirty all cheap), along with a couple tubes for them to crawl in, and ladders to climb on, ect. You’ll hear a lot less of a “nuisance”. As well as further the entertainment for the owner. Everyone loves a dog that passes out right when you get home because they had such a great time.

      • Jason Fraser

        If you want to “entertain” your “children” with gravel, grass, tubes, etc., do it on your own property! Don’t expect the taxpayers to foot the bill to entertain your dogs!

  • Geoff

    I used to clean that park. Never once did those dogs bark excessively when I walked in with all my work gear on. In my opinion, this injunction is just a means for these people to get attention in their otherwise mediocre lives. Dogs bark, fish swim, annoying people exist. Welcome to life.

    • Mike M

      Destructive crybabies sue.

    • ohhhdear

      Dogs bark when their owner does not train them .

      • Stephanie

        Dog’s bark to communicate their emotions. And to protect their owners. If your taking your dog into public, especially around other dogs, expecting them not to talk to one another, you’re clearly not a dog person.
        Owners train them not to bark at night, not to bark at a door bell, not to bar at passing cars.. but a dog park!? It’s the only place they can be free, and you want to muzzle that!? Ridiculous..

  • D.W.

    Maybe we can all just walk our dogs daily through their neighboorhood instead of letting them run in the park…..

    • ohhhdear

      That would be great, Properly trained dogs don’t have the “need” to bark when getting walked by their owner, because the dog is finally getting some attention.

      • D.W.

        Who said my dog will bark? But, if I plan a meet up on meetup.com to do weekend walk abouts in their neighboorhood, then my dog can still see his bog park buddies and get a nice walk. 😉 Right through these people area.

  • wireknob

    We’re at the dog park almost every day, year round. All I can say is that those in the dog park while we’re there are very sensitive about the noise issue and make a concerted effort to keep the dogs from barking excessively. It is a very popular and heavily used dog park so there is some barking and other noise, as you might expect, but regular visitors have been very active in trying to mitigate the noise.

    I will also say that the dog park is perhaps our favorite part of this community. We’ve made so many good friends there, and we’ve seen so many dogs work out issues and become well socialized with the help of other understanding and supportive dog owners and their pets. The exercise and play the dogs get to experience in the park is invaluable to their happiness and well-being. The dog owners benefit from their interactions as well.

    My recommendation to those who are complaining about the noise is to walk on over and partake of the joy in the dog park. It is full of good karma, happiness, and friendship.

  • Steve

    Wait until the Silver Line opens and the Fairfax Connector commuter lot opens next to the dog park. Will car-door slamming commuters and belching buses be added to the lawsuit?

  • John Smith

    Lucky thing these folks don’t live near the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. We’d sure miss it.

  • Donielle Scherff

    People are drawn to Reston because it is a community—we live,
    work, and play together. It seems to
    me that these homeowners bought homes knowing they were near a park. Still,
    Fairfax County Park Authority has made concessions to address their noise
    concerns (which seem overstated at best)

    We can all love happily and comfortably because of all of
    the spaces and resources available to us beyond our front doors. If you take
    the dog park away, having a dog won’t be an option for so many Restonians who
    live in condos, apartments or small homes without much private outdoor space. What
    loss that would be in the quality of life column.

    In the same vein, we don’t need to install pools in our
    yards because we have great community pools to use. We save the time, the money
    and maintenance of having our own, and we get to meet the people in our
    neighborhoods while enjoying shared recreation resources. Win-win.

    This is a great time to make improvements to Reston as we
    grow and respond to the tide of people on the way with the new Metro. It is
    also a time to be extra vigilant in keeping this town a community and being
    good neighbors rather than just being self-serving and opportunistic. .

    Thanks Bill Bouie for keeping that in mind and managing our
    parks—for all residents, rather than just the loudest ones.

  • ohhhdear

    I hope the noise victims win. Noise, which includes excessive barking, is a serious health hazard. And for those of you laughing.. you have no idea what this is like. But it isn’t the dogs’ fault. It is the fault of irresponsible dog owners.

    • Biker Sherlock

      Don’t mind the troll folks. Judging by its posting history this is not even a Reston resident, much less a dog owner.

  • Biker Sherlock

    All right Restonites!

    For once, judging by the comments, we are all calling out the whining retired hall monitor wannabees instead of siding with them. Maybe it is only because man’s best friend is on the other end, but it warms my heart to see common sense prevail in the comments for once.

    Halloween must be a blast for the kids in that neighborhood… one can only imagine…

    Carry on and live free!

  • snobs

    I’m surprised they gave their names, everyone should walk the dogs on their lawns lol. And don’t clean up after

    • ohhhdear

      That’s a typical response from a irresponsible and very inconsiderate dog owner

  • ohhhdear

    People have a constitutional right to peace and quiet in their home. Noise causes serious health problems. That is a known fact. For those suffering from the noise , there is a wealth of info at barkingdogs.net . Also FB has a page facebook.com/barkingdogproblems

    • Barb

      You must be kidding. A constitutional right to peace and quiet? What constitution are your referring to? You buy a house on a busy road, across from a public park, you have to expect some noise. Maybe time to rethink your personal constitution demands.

    • D.W.

      So, should your neighboors stop mowing thier lawns? Should we not use our horns next to your house? What about those darn birds that chirp outside my window at 5 am in the summer? Should I just shot them? There is a bike path by my house that gets noisy, I think I should asked for it to be closed. Noise is a part of life. If this is your biggest life issue (some dogs barking, even though the traffic next to the park is way louder), then you should count your blessings.

  • Stephanie

    How can you say suffering?! Really?? People are acting as if the dog is right out side their house barking up a storm. It’s ridiculous. Reston does an amazing job at taking care of it’s residents, so if a group complains, no matter how trivial the complaint is, Reston does something about it, hence the fence.
    And, it’s completely untrue to say that you can’t get used to dog’s barking, you can get used to anything it just takes time.
    If they moved it to Lake Fairfax, that would be great! But getting rid of it all together, you’ll for sure see a increase in dogs around the neighborhood off the leash. And that’s a entirely new issue that people will start to complain about.

  • Fletch

    I am entirely unsurprised. The snippy, short-tempered yuppies that bring their purebred there – and then frown at anyone who lets their dog interact with their Westminster-bound prize – are probably the same folks that show up at HOA meetings to complain about the loud noise of the water in the sewers nearby.

  • kcowing

    Have you been to the dog park recently? Most of the sound barrier was blown away by the wind yesterday.

  • b a

    I would not take a dog or puppy there while as posters have written “we’ve seen so many dogs work out issues and become well socialized with
    the help of other understanding and supportive dog owners and their pets.” The dog park is a place for exercise and play NOT training or subjecting unsuspecting other dogs or people to aggressive behavior.

    Some comments about incidents at another dog park:

  • TheKingJAK

    Ha! I jog and ride my bicycle in that area whenever I’m afforded the opportunity to do so, and the loudest noises I’ve ever heard are the vehicles whooshing by me at 40 MPH (Not to mention the blaring sound systems and horn honking, as well as a regular rush of emergency vehicles). Honestly, I’ve never even noticed the dogs, and I hear more dog noise in my own neighborhood (Which I sleep right through even with an open window, and which a single neighbor in the community has yet to even launch a complaint about). Get a life. If you want it to be dead quiet, then move to a rural area where the only noise you’ll ever hear is a tractor rolling down the street early in the morning and late in the evening on the way to and from the fields. What next, will they complain about the ice cream trucks and baseball/softball games (The latter can often times run late into the night during the summertime)?

  • gee

    It’s a dog park! what do you expect??? dog barks just as human talks. Stop being extragerated, lack of sleep and stress????? get real…!


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