Restonians — Mostly — Love The Dog Park

Playtime at the dog parkWednesday’s Reston Now article about a group of North Reston residents asking the Fairfax County Park Authority to shut down the Baron Cameron Park off-leash dog area generated a record number of page views and comments, as well as lively social media reaction.

Last week, a group of residents of Longwood Grove, the subdivision situated across Wiehle Avenue from the dog park, filed an injunction in Fairfax County Circuit Court asking that the park be immediately closed. The residents, who represent five of the 100 households in the neighborhood, say the dog barking is a nuisance that is affecting their quality of life.

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.

Most people who commented and engaged on Reston Now’s Facebook page say the injunction is not warranted.

“Wiehle in and of itself is loud and busy, as is Baron Cameron, so why not just shut them both down as well as the entire Baron Cameron Park since I can hear kids and parents yelling and whistles blowing? Who are these people anyway? They should really consider packing up and moving out of a metropolitan area so someplace like the Montana wilderness,” said Facebook commenter Robbie Nolan.

Said Deloris Bailey:  “This park is used by so many dog owners and is a benefit to the ENTIRE community … how can 5 families shut it down? Also, if you wanted peace, why buy a house off of Wiehle? It will still be extremely noisy. When I was a kid, we moved to a neighborhood off of a major intersection. At first the noise kept me up, but eventually I got used to it. When I went away to college, the quiet campus kept me up, for awhile.

Also, the article said that the new Master Plan recommends moving the dog park into an interior section of the park … this should work. … And they should make it bigger.”

Here is a sampling of what others had to say:

On Facebook – 

* Ok, how do we protest. Sign me up! This is ridiculous. Sure, there are doggy-noises, but the dog park is not close enough to houses to warrant noise complaints. I’m seriously appalled by this. Some people just have to find something to complain about!!!

* Ridiculous. Then close down the soccer fields, etc. if you don’t like noise. There are plenty of other noisy things around. Like others said, if you don’t like dogs, then don’t buy a house next to a dog park. There is only one dog park in Reston and Reston is such a dog-friendly place, we need it.

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.

On Reston Now – 

* 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.

* 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.

* Gee Whiz, the comments on this stream are pretty one sided! I have lived in Reston for a long time (not in this zip code) and can say that the park was originally intended as a school site. The homes built close to the current dog park were there BEFORE the dog park existed. Twice when I have been a guest at two homes in the proximity of the affected homes, I could clearly hear the dogs barking the entire time I was there, once during the afternoon for several hours and once in evening for a dinner party.

I was surprised to hear that a special fence had been erected. Doesn’t that seem to indicate that there IS a problem? [Park Authority Board Chair Bill Bouie] Mr. Bouie is quoted as saying “they “did tests that showed no noise. If so, why was fence erected? Do Bouie and others claiming that dogs don’t create a nuisance have hearing disabilities? That would be only way that one could claim that the barking can not be heard.

I myself have a hearing problem but was still aware of the barking though I did not convey anything about it to my hosts as I did not want to call attention to the annoyance. And I was just visiting, so I can well understand the stress on those forced to live there.

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