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RA Board Will Listen to Neighbors’ Dog Park Noise Complaints

by Karen Goff — February 26, 2016 at 4:30 pm 68 Comments

Sign at dog park at Baron CameronReston Association’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to at least listen to and discuss the plight of Longwood Grove homeowners, who say their peace and quiet at home in Reston is being disturbed 365 days a year from a noisy dog park nearby.

While RA can listen to members and discuss the matter with the Fairfax County Park Authority, it likely does not hold any authority as the off-leash dog area sits in Baron Cameron Park, which is owned by the park authority.

The RA board will hear from the Longwood Grove homeowners at next meeting (March 24, 6:30 p.m. at RA HQ, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr.). RA says it will also invite park authority representatives. Eighty Longwood Grove residents representing more than 40 homes petitioned RA to ask for its help.

The noise complaints about the dog park have been going on for years. The dog park has been at the Wiehle Avenue edge of Baron Cameron Park since 2001.

The residents say the off-leash area, which is the only one in Reston, was supposed to be temporary and was never approved by the county planning commission.

“It does not meet the land use goals of Reston, the park authority or the county,” said Moira Callaghan, representing Longwood Grove at Thursday’s RA Board meeting.

“While the park sits on county-owned land, its proximity to RA members [homes] is unacceptable to Longwood Grove residents and should be unacceptable to this board. Nuisance noise should not be permitted or tolerated.”

Callaghan was among a smaller group of Longwood Grove owners that recently lobbied for the dog run to move to Lake Fairfax Park, even offering $15,000 to assist the process. The group also filed a lawsuit against the county park authority and the former nonprofit that administered the dog park in order to get the dog run shut down.

The lawsuit was dismissed last year, but the homeowners still want the park to move or to go away. Callaghan said that even though Fairfax County recently instituted new noise rules, dog parks are exempt from them.

“We conclude the only viable option is to close and relocate the dog park,” she said. “We recognize the desire for a dog park, but we seek RA’s assistance. RA’s purpose is to promote the peace, health and comfort of all members. It is not peaceful to sit on your porch and hear 90 minutes of dogs barking. Unlike traffic noise, barking is impulsive and is more annoying.”

  • GB

    OMG – take all the time and money that’s gone into complaining and build a @#[email protected] sound wall already!

    • Sally Forth

      The presentation contained analysis from an acoustical engineer that showed a 10ft wall wouldn’t help.

      Thank you, Nate in comment above. You are absolutely right! Those who brand the dog park complainers as “silly” or “selfish” are neither. No one would suffer the financial or emotional toll of fighting something imaginary. The petition filed last night at RA was signed more than 40 homes’ owners impacted by incessant barking. Hard to argue that all of those folks have imaginary demons.

      To have others like park authority CHAIR, Bill Bouie, A RESTON RESIDENT APPOINTED BY CATHY HUDGINS, contend that the traffic noise is worse is a huge fallacy. White noise (steady hum of traffic) is much different from adrenaline-inducing noise which barking is. While one may think you would desensitize over time to barking, your ‘fight or flight’ responses do not. Repeated stress like this results in harm to the health of both the nearby homeowners AND THEIR dogs.

      The most disturbing part of this long lasting controversy is that the aggrieved have presented many possible win/win solutions only to be ridiculed and dismissed by Bouie and other dog owners who would absolutely understand IF the dog park were suddenly placed in proximity to their homes. Park noise from ball games is expected and not an issue. But to condone continuous dog barking every day of the year shows complete disregard for the well-being of others.

      Let’s all work together to get this facility moved to Lake Fairfax Park where it would be legal and is already in the master plan. There the facility could be upgraded from a fenced dirt bowl to include a much better facility for both dogs and owners. The LFP master plan dog park location is not near homes and is surrounded by buffering woods. This could really be an amazing socializing amenity for all local dog owners AND their beloved pets!.

      Like Nate, I do not live anywhere near the barking in BCP. But my heart goes out to those who do.

      • ReasonableReston

        sally

        here is the problem with the anti dog park people to reasonable people 1) the lake fairfax option is not win win as lake fairfax is dearth of parking and a much harder location to access 2) what precedent will this set oh that park full of toddlers is annoying to me so we should move that 3) there has been no video evidence that i have seen that shows the claims 4) that park has been at that location for a while why only in recent years have things moved in this direction

        • Fred Scuttle

          I’ll move next door to you and practice with my heavy metal band and tell you to f*** off if/when you open your pie hole to complain. And I’ll let my dogs bark all day just for fun. We’ll see if you change your tune then, won’t we?

          • RoadApples

            I invite you to move next door to me; I personally have no problem with heavy metal band practice nor dogs barking.
            I do though have a problem with your rude punkette response to this nice Lady who is making some responsible and salient points.
            How about those roadapples!

          • Fred Scuttle

            Then it’ll be gangsta rap w/ a little Dubstep at full crank. NObody who likes heavy metal likes those genres also. So, where do you live and is the house next door for sale?

        • Sally Forth

          Thank you, Reasonable for your response. Maybe we can work together?
          1.What you may not know is that the proposed LFP option already on the master plan has a LOT of close parking available. Depending on where you live, you may have to drive there but it’s not that far from BCP. Lots of folks drive to BCP; hence the concern and hassles of parking there. And once there, the facility would be a Mercedes to the BCP Corvair. Dog owners could partner with FCPA to make it into the ‘ideal’ park.
          2. The toddler noise concern is not comparable to the fight/flight noise characteristics of barking. (Parents are might argue “))) I’ve been there and feel the pain!!!) No one in this neighborhood is concerned with NORMAL park noise. Dog noise is abnormal as discussed above.
          3. Video evidence??? If you are a BCP dog park patron, you already know that dogs bark when you are there. These victims live across from a continuous noise source that is stressing. You are only there when you are there; They have a lifetime sentence. Why does there need to be video evidence? Why would these people make a fuss if they weren’t suffering mightily. That is the reality. People have better things to do with their lives than spend time and considerable funds fighting this. Watch the RA meeting tape from 2.25.16 to see Callahan’s complete statement; you will learn A LOT>
          4. The neighborhood has fought this for years only to be rebuffed by county officials. This is NOT a recent issue and is not an complaint from new people moving in. This park was foisted on the Longwood Grove neighborhood without due process because Bouie could do it and did do it. Why he refuses to acknowledge the much more appropriate setting at LFP is very strange and upsetting.

        • Guest

          Perhaps you should be asking what precedence the Park Authority is setting when it does not notify people of a public hearing and does not follow its own published processes? Did you listen to or watch the presentation? Did you catch the part about the Park Authority telling neighbors the noise ordinance didn’t apply when it did?

          Maybe if the Park Authority planned noisy park features (dog parks) for the center of a park and non-noisy features (gardens) for the exterior we wouldn’t have this problem.

          Why is Lake Fairfax so hard to access?

          • JS

            ‘precedent’

      • JustSayin

        Sally- (aka) Fran L- just admit it. Any time you have the opportunity to complain about Bill Bouie or Cathy Hudgins that’s the side of the argument you’ll be on…just sayin’.

        • Sally Forth

          Just Sayin – Who is Fran L??? Not me. Sorry.

          Don’t LIKE to complain about anyone but when situations arise due to inaction by persons in power, what IS the appropriate action?

          The dog park issue has gone on for YEARS with absolutely no respect or movement from Mr. Bouie who made the park happen without legal procedures in the first place. If this happened to YOU, I would side with you. It is time for a new face on FCPA; someone who actually cares about getting proper facilities for Reston residents/taxpayers vs. fighting with our citizens. Mrs. Hudgins has appointed BB and therefore is culpable as well.

          • Cary Coryell

            Wait a second, the sound of dogs barking while they play until dinner time is adrenaline-producing and elicits a flight or fight response that over time impacts health? That is the most bogus thing I’ve ever heard.

          • Loud&Proud

            Yay-“JustSayin” that’s not Fran it Tammie P!

      • Brandon Shipe

        Sally,

        I agree. We should work together. Specifically, we should work together to avoid executing the solution you’ve proposed.

        Thank you for writing 15 paragraphs, of which I took the liberty of reading two lines.

    • Ming the Merciless

      The dog park owners want to make Mexico build it.

      • JS

        Just to be clear, we the people own the dog park and The Fairfax County Park Authority oversees and maintains it.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    The people complaining are full of BS. I hope the RA Board tells them to shove it at the hearing.

    • Fred Scuttle

      You obviously don’t live near there. Either that or you’re deaf. Self-serving troll…

      • Guest

        Arielle also has a dog I’m guessin’ and uses the nearby dog park for her convenience.

        • Brandon Shipe

          I bet Arielle drinks water, eats food and breathes air.

          • Cary Coryell

            Oh, Arielle probably has a dirty rotten DOG, and on top of that she DARES to use a county park that her tax money helped to build and maintain?! What a piece of TRASH! ***eyeroll***

      • Brandon Shipe

        Do you know what they say about assuming things Freddie?

        • Fred Scuttle

          Yes, it makes an ass out of Brandon Shipe. That’s what they say anyways…

    • md

      Arielle in NoVA, what specifically have they said that you think is BS?

    • coneygal86

      Arielle, clearly you don’t live in Reston. In Reston we are concerned about what our neighbors think and have to deal with. One of the great things about Reston. We don’t tell them to shove it.

      • Cary Coryell

        I live in Reston, and I care a lot about maintaining an agreeable environment for everyone. If my neighbors have ridiculous demands that would only be feasible if they lived in the country, I tell them to shove it. Particularly when they aren’t willing to compromise whatsoever.

      • Mike M

        Oh, wait. I never got THAT memo.

  • JS

    This article fails to mention the noise studies that were carried out by Fairfax County and determined to be below any nuisance level.

    • Guest

      So, what level is that? Have they tried that level next to Cathy Hudgins’ or Bill Bouie’s homes?
      The only reason that result was achieved is because FCPA doesn’t want to spend money to relocate the dog park. So it just ignores the nuisance it is creating.

      • JS

        And again, call Fairfax County and ask them!

    • Guest

      What did the noise studies determine exactly? Why did the county change a 50yr old law and exempt dog parks? Why did the county wrap the fence if the noise study “determined [it] to be below any nuisance level”? How much did the fencing material cost?

      • JS

        Call Fairfax County and ask them!

        • rk

          You wrote as if you knew. Did you call and ask them?

          • JS

            No I did not call them and yes I know that the studies were conducted.

  • Nate_VA

    Dog owners can be oblivious to their dogs barking, the same way parents can be oblivious to their children’s screaming. I don’t live over there, but if I did I’m sure that the barking would bother me too.

    • Mike M

      Woof! Woof! Woof-woof-woof. Woof!

      • Manifest destiny

        Missing parent?

        • Mike M

          Grrrrr!

      • SouthRestonResident

        Is that a dog or Hilary Clinton?

    • JS

      Your comment: “I don’t live over there, but if I did I’m sure that the barking would bother me too.” is pure speculation. There is a great deal of traffic noise there as well. Are you sure that would bother you too???

  • Cary Coryell

    Why was no one in support of the dog park interviewed for this article?

    • Karen Goff

      Because this is a story about what happened at the RA meeting Thursday and it was strictly Callaghan’s testimony and RA deciding to learn more. The dog park saga is a continuing one – supporters have been interviewed before and I am certain they will be at the march meeting, where this will be discussed more.

    • SouthRestonResident

      I was wondering that as well, my guess is because the story is “we want the dog park gone” and not “let’s have a discussion on something”

      • Karen Goff

        Read my answer below.

  • Problem Solved

    Disguised as a birdhouse, this patented device quickly and humanely restores peace and quiet for those vexed by a dog’s barking. When a dog barks within range of the birdhouse, it emits a harmless ultrasonic tone, inaudible to humans, that startles the animal into silence. The dog eventually associates its bark with the unpleasant sound, which conditions him to curb this undesirable behavior. An on/off switch with three sensitivity levels (15′, 30′, 50′) lets you control the unit’s effective range, and a test mode enables you to verify the device is functioning properly

  • v.vijaya kumar

    The dogs do make people ( other than owners) shiver as and when theycome near . This is very bad . and should be seriously addressed

    • Arielle in NoVA

      What??? You claim dogs make people shiver? This doesn’t make sense. Please rephrase so we can understand what you’re talking about.

    • Richard

      Please, the discussion is about the dog park, not your cynophobia.

    • JS

      Let me repeat what I wrote above which was meant to help you understand that the problem is with YOU and not the dogs: What you are describing/complaining about has nothing to do with the Reston Dog Park. But to comment on what you did say, it is obvious that you are fearful of dogs and that is unfortunate. Your statement: “It is harmful if the dog is a big one .It is sure to bark and get hold of the strangers .” is an untrue generalization. If that were true, every time a person with a large dog takes it for a walk it would bite someone. That is ludicrous. I think the best thing for you to do with your great fear of dogs is to walk in a place such as the inside of a mall or otherwise, where dogs are not allowed. Or perhaps some therapy may help to desensitize you with this phobia.

  • v.vijaya kumar

    Once I was on my regular walking practice . I saw a man with dog comming in opposite direction . The dog he held with a belt seem to be too long and the dog took the advantage and could reach me even from a distance .with a barking . I had to defend myself by running away to avoid the possible bite . and the owner seem to enjoy the situation . This is a bad experience and made me to shiver whenever i see person with dog. Let this be an eye opener to all especially the dog owners

    • Arielle in NoVA

      You really need to learn about dog behavior and try to get over your very obvious and serious fear of dogs. You are living in a community with many, many dogs, the vast majority of which are friendly, and your fearful reactions to them are going to make even the friendly ones think there is something to be worried about. You’re the one with the issues, not the dogs.

      You being anxious will make a dog near you anxious. If you are calm, a dog near you is way more likely to react well to you.

      Barking does not necessarily mean a dog is unfriendly. Some dogs bark for attention.

      Running is a horrible way to react to any dog, friendly or unfriendly: the friendly ones are likely to chase you if you run because they’ll think you want to play a game; the unfriendly ones are also likely to chase you if you run, but not because they want to play – they’ll want to chase you off or scare you, at best.

  • Cary Coryell

    The people complaining about dog park noise are talking out of their asses. Sorry but it’s true. There is NO WAY that the sound of dogs occasionally barking and playing until 30 minutes after sunset…SUNSET people…that means around 6:30 PM lately…overpowers the sound of one of the busiest and loudest roads in Reston which runs right between the dog park and that neighborhood. Some people have even gone over with a tool that measures noise and tested it at at various points in the day–these neighbors are lying because they simply don’t like the dog park. I’m 28 years old and have lived in Reston the last 6 years, I also work in Reston, my sister went to high school in Reston. Part of the reason I continue to stay here despite outrageous rent that I can barely afford–and contribute my TAX dollars and my money to local businesses–is BECAUSE of this dog park. It’s the one dog park we get anywhere near this area, and it’s barely even maintained. Our dog park is an absolute joke compared to the multiple parks in Arlington and Falls Church, but us dog lovers are so desperate for a place for our dogs to socialize and get exercise that many of us go every single day. It’s a place for community building as well. The crack-down the county has been doing with this park–making us feel like CRIMINALS for wanting reasonable use of a tax-paid county park that we are ENTITLED to–is going to drive people away. The county and Reston underestimate how important this park is to residents of Reston, and how MANY dog owners there are period. Because the county is kowtowing to a handful of busy-body neighbors, all but ONE of whom moved to that neighborhood AFTER the park was built (look at the court transcripts), who either need a hobby or need a taste of what real problems are–young people like me and my sister are going to get the hell out of Reston and contribute our money, taxes, talents and community-building in a place where everything isn’t ruined by some nosey assholes who have nothing better to do. I challenge anyone who reads this article to go over to that neighborhood during the times the park is “open” and tell me the dogs drown out the traffic and the road. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

    p.s. when you live in a giant metropolis outside of a city, sometimes you might have to deal with a little bit of noise. Gone are the days when the sounds of high school football games, dogs barking and kids playing are a welcome reminder of the COMMUNITY we live in. If these neighbors want 100% peace and quiet ALL HOURS OF THE DAY, they probably shouldn’t live in a suburb of D.C. or any major city. Move to the frickin country if that’s what you want! I would understand if the dog noise happened after any NORMAL hour that NORMAL people would need it to be quiet to sleep, but the park opens when everyone is already on their way to work and closes before dinner time! Is the county or the RA REALLY going to prioritize a few grumpy neighbors who can’t just shut their goddamn windows over the literal thousands upon thousands of people who use the park every day and rely on it as a part of their lifestyle? If these neighbors couldn’t grow up and deal with the distant sound of happy dogs playing across a 4-lane congested road, then they probably shouldn’t have moved next to a dog park. Not our problem.

    P.P.S. Do the residents of Longwood Grove realize that most other parks near us have LIGHTS?! People go to those parks until 9 & 10 PM. We can’t even get the county to give us ONE light, AND they kick us out at sunset. And one park I frequently visit in Falls Church with lights has a fence that literally BORDERS peoples’ houses! In a wealthy, nice neighborhood! Everyone seems to get along just fine because guess what, we live in a heavily populated urban environment and people use parks. Get over it!

  • v.vijaya kumar

    The dog owners seem to not bother about the problems that they create for others , specially when they are walking with their pets .The longer the belt it is more The danger they pose to the nearby people . The dogs seem to take advantage of the length of the belt and reach the near ones to kiss/bite . It is harmful if the dog is a big one .It is sure to bark and get hold of the strangers . May be the fine and penalties are in hand but the immediate victim is the person who is hurt . and needs medical attention . Hence one should always be careful and be away as far as possible from the people with dogs.

    • qwerty

      +1 for the lost in translation/unintentional humor

    • JS

      What you are describing/complaining about has nothing to do with the Reston Dog Park. But to comment on what you did say, it is obvious that you are fearful of dogs and that is unfortunate. Your statement: “It is harmful if the dog is a big one .It is sure to bark and get hold of the strangers .” is an untrue generalization. If that were true, every time a person with a large dog takes it for a walk it would bite someone. That is ludicrous. I think the best thing for you to do with your great fear of dogs is to walk in a place such as the inside of a mall or otherwise, where dogs are not allowed. Or perhaps some therapy may help to desensitize you with this phobia.

  • Brandon Shipe

    I say we band together and expand the dog park area. This will allow the park to entertain more dogs at any given point of time.

  • coneygal86

    The concern that I have is the precendent this is setting. Does Reston Association (and Reston residents) have the right to determine what is placed or developed in our community or Fairfax County? Reston has clearly established guidelines concerning what is developed. I can’t change the color of my front door without the input of my neighbors. Community concern has always been a high priority. The people dismissing the concerns of the neighbors must not be from Reston (live in Herndon Maybe, ?). With the development happening in Reston this is just the tip of the iceberg. Will developers turn to Fairfax County for relief if neighbors and Reston Association disapprove of something? Was the RA approval process even followed in this case? Owners have a right to quiet enjoyment of their home. There is no “right” to a dog park, it’s a privilege. We know that there are dog owners who abuse that privilege and don’t monitor their dogs. Perhaps the people who want to maintain the park should take action to make sure dog owners are controlling their barking dogs instead of blasting neighbors who have to deal with it. BTW, I’m not sure Lake Fairfax is the answer, there are many homes that surround the park and this may just pass the problem to someone else.

    • Cary Coryell

      Actually, no one has the right to “quiet” enjoyment of their home. Not in a major suburb of a major city. This is the definition of #whitepeopleproblems #firstworldproblems. And yes we do have a right to reasonable use of a tax-payer funded park. Those of us who want to maintain the dog park DO control our dogs’ barking and attempt to maintain relative peace at the park whenever possible, but guess what, when dogs play they BARK! Yes, sometimes the barking is at passersby or one dog herding other dogs, but MOST of the time it is dogs engaging in normal play. If Longwood Grove residents wanted 100%, 24/7 “quiet” in and outside of their homes then they shouldn’t have moved next to a dog park. The ONLY person in this entire scenario I sympathize with is the ONE resident in the original lawsuit that moved to their home before the dog park was built. That one person is the only one who has a right to say anything, and sorry but we don’t live in a world where one person’s–or “80 families'”–ridiculous wants outweigh the 3,000 people who frequent the dog park every week. P.S. I and most of the other dog park regulars I know DO live in Reston, thank you very much. And no I’m not from Reston, I’m from a place called “the rest of the world” where when you choose to live in a densely populated suburb of a big city you don’t get to also demand absolute peace and quiet in your neighborhood–maybe from 9 PM onward, but that’s it.

      • coneygal86

        So, let me get this straight. According to you “thousands upon thousands of people use the park everyday” and “when dogs play they BARK!” There are thousands of dogs barking in this park everyday!? No wonder the neighbors are upset. You seem to be supporting their position.
        Your answer to them is “get over it!” and “shove it.” How is that “maintaining an agreeable environment for everyone?”
        Further, you say this is “the definition of #whitepeopleproblems.” Seriously? You’re making this racist? Reston is very diverse and I’m confident that the neighbors of this park are as well. Apparently you think only “white people” would be bothered by incessant barking. Unbelievable.
        Finally, this is Reston and we aren’t “the rest of the world.” Reston has covenants that are followed and in fact in Reston the concerns of the “80 families” may indeed outweigh the concerns of the people who don’t live next to the park. Get over it.

    • Dog Park Lover/User

      RA may be only able to make recommendations to FCPA at best! As a resident near Tall Oaks I would LOVE to have the right to determine what is placed or developed in our community! Guess what I get?? Condos and townhouses to drive down my home value and get ride of more green space. But, yeah, I’m on board that we can really impact the discussion. The group should take their money and provide it to the influencers behind closed doors and maybe they will get what they want. The county wants more money which is why there is more development and housing. Would the same complaints be happening if the FCPA truly built the sports complex they wanted a few years ago? Overall Reston residents love open, green space and declaring new development “Yes, but not in my backyard!!”

  • Cary Coryell

    Are you kidding? If you don’t see the enormous value of socializing your dog with other dogs, people and children, then I feel bad for your dog. I take my dog hiking off leash every week, walks every day and he gets exercise every single day. On top of that, MANY dog owners like to play fetch with their dogs off leash, and there is NOWHERE ELSE we are allowed to do so anywhere remotely near us and not get a ticket. Lazy, selfish, riff-raff? Anti-dog park people, the comment/person above should make you ashamed–THESE are your supporters. I’m not wasting any more time responding to this inane comment.

    • Cary Coryell

      P.S. numerous dog behaviorists and trainers frequent the park with not only their own dogs but bring clients and their dogs; they all say that taking your dog to the dog park for stimulation, socialization and exercise–the kind of exercise (playing, chasing each other and wrestling) that they can ONLY get playing with other dogs–is paramount to having a completely healthy, happy dog. They also say that your dog won’t get enough exercise/burn off enough energy with solely “walks” and “runs” unless you’re a long distance runner. If you think you know more about what’s best for your dog than these professionals, good luck! #feelbadforyoudog

  • Brandon Shipe

    With your $15,000 donation I will help make Reston great again, starting with the construction of a brand new Chuck E Cheese’s.

    • Arielle in NoVA

      In the middle of that neighborhood, so they can enjoy the happy, excited kids entering and exiting the facility.

  • Brandon Shipe
  • Ty S

    This whole conversation really gets me thinking. As i drive from Burbank to Downtown Los Angeles, I can’t help by ponder all the points being discussed. And while all of you make valid points, I think the most appropriate response, nay, the most humane response would be to build a second park in the middle of the neighborhood. Puppies can run free, and if the people near the park are upset about the noise, now everyone can partake in the laughter of small labradors and german shepherds chasing their toys.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/83b32d0e188a8d55e5b77c18962e7d7670587928771c4e9c9fc468fb76446c4f.png

  • Cary Coryell

    RESTON DOG PARK SUPPORTERS: Please read the below message! Please consider sending even a short paragraph in to show your support!

    Good Morning Dog Lovers of Reston! If you haven’t heard, the neighbors across the street are meeting with the Reston Association to ask them to close the park. We would like to show support for the park by being at the next Reston Association Meeting on March 24th, time is TBD. There has been a request to for people to share stories about our experiences with the Reston Dog Park in order to show how beloved this park is. Please send any stories or messages of support to [email protected]
    Any little bit will help. Thanks so much!

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