Dog Park Foes Seek County Grant to Change Location

by Karen Goff February 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm 1,226 25 Comments

Sign at dog park at Baron CameronSeveral residents of the Longwood Grove neighborhood have a new suggestion to quell the noise at the Baron Cameron Park Dog Park — they are seeking a county grant that will pay to move the off-leash area to another Fairfax County Park Authority location.

It has been nearly a year since the group of five Longwood Grove families whose homes are located across four-lane Wiehle Avenue from the dog park filed a lawsuit against the Park Authority.

In it, the plaintiffs called the park, the only off-leash dog run in Reston “a private nuisance” as the “the dog park noise, mainly from unruly dogs barking and fighting, has grown to intolerable levels over the last two years.”

The lawsuit asked for an immediate shutdown of the park. That did not happen.

So in January, the Longwood residents submitted to the Park Authority a Mastenbrook Grant application that seeks to relocate the dog park from its current location to Lake Fairfax Park.

Mastenbrook Grants are a Park Authority program, founded in 1999, that match funding (up to 50 percent of the total project cost or $20,000 maximum) for park projects. The aim is to fill a gap between limited bond funding and the community’s desire for new neighborhood facilities. 

The grants have been used in the past for dog parks, playgrounds, greenhouses, shade gardens and other small improvements desired by civic groups, says the FCPA website

It would be unprecedented to use grant funds to move a project to another park, said Park Authority Chairman Bill Bouie.

“As you know, a few Longwood Grove residents have been engaged in an ongoing dialogue with Fairfax County Park Authority about the dog park and have spent countless hours trying to resolve the issue to no avail,” one of the Longwood Grove residents said in an email obtained by Reston Now.

“On Jan. 21, Longwood Grove neighbors submitted to the Park Authority a Mastenbrook Grant application that, if approved, would relocate the dog park from its current location to Lake Fairfax.

“A dog park was approved for that location by FCPA in October 2001, about one month after Baron Cameron Park was opened to the public. This proposal will provide the county with a larger dog park, centrally located in a 476-acre park less than two miles away. We feel this proposal is win-win for all. … We are offering $15,000 to FCPA to relocate the dog park to Lake Fairfax using existing dog park materials. Every dog park in Fairfax County except two, one which was part of a development proffer and the other privately owned, have been erected using dog park sponsor money matched by Mastenbrook Grant Funds.”

Bouie said the application will be considered through the normal Park Authority grant process. Applications are reviewed by park staff, which then makes a recommendation to the Park Authority Board. The Board makes the final decision on funding.

An additional Park Authority source says Longwood Grove said they would pay $15,000 of its own money if they could get matching grant funds from the county in an offer to settle the lawsuit last month. That offer was unanimously rejected by the Park Authority Board, the source said.

The grant application says the park materials — including 1,235 linear feet of vinyl coated chain link fence — can be relocated and a new park open at a cost of $30,000, but the park source said the figure is closer to $200,000.

The grant application says a dog park at the Lake Fairfax, which is much larger and farther set from residential neighborhoods, would:

  • Provide immediate relief to our residential neighborhood, especially considering Fairfax County exempted dog park noise from the noise ordinance.
  • The dog park will be located in a heavily used area with sufficient parking and ADA accessibility, less than two miles from the current location.
  • Patrons have stated that Lake Fairfax would make a great location for a dog park.
  • This location offers a larger, partially-shaded dog park.
  • Lake Fairfax is convenient for families with dogs and children as many sports fields are located in the area and there are many trails for dog walking. This location is convenient for those camping at Lake Fairfax.
  • FCPA’s on-site staff is able to monitor the facility as the dog park may no longer have a sponsor
  • The location will not result in the destruction of a sports field.
  • The center of this 476 acre park is suitable for this type of park feature. This proposal should not result in residential noise disturbances.
  • Removes a feature that is unsightly and does not meet Reston’s design standards.

Baron Cameron Park recently went through a Master Plan process. In the plan approved last June, the dog park, which the board had considered moving to the interior of the park, stays in its current location along Wiehle Avenue.

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