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Speak to RA on Reston Dog Park Noise Thursday

by Karen Goff — March 23, 2016 at 11:30 am 13 Comments

Dogs play on a Sunday Baron CameronReston Association wants to know how you feel about Reston’s Dog Park at Baron Cameron Park.

The RA Board of Directors will be discussing the dog park — as well as listening to comments from members during its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, March 24. The dog park discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. RA has no particular motion for action to be taken concerning the park.

At issue: the ongoing saga of nearby homeowners who say their quality of life is being interrupted by the constant barking and yapping from the off-leash area that borders Wiehle Avenue.

The RA board recently received a petition from residents of more than 40 homes in Longwood Grove, located across Wiehle from the park.

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. Park Authority representatives have also been invited to speak at the meeting.

The Longwood Grove residents are asking RA’s help in addressing the following issues: the nuisance noise coming from the dog park, traffic concerns at access points to the dog park, proper management of the facility and its users, and relocation of the park to Lake Fairfax.

“The negative impact of this park feature on our neighborhood is severe,” Longwood Grove resident Moira Callaghan wrote to the RA Board last month. “The barking has created years of ongoing stress: the noise disrupts sleep, invades the peace and quiet of homes throughout the day, and can often be heard after the park has closed. ”

“The increased vehicular traffic, which includes many park users turning into or out of the park, makes it difficult to get out of Longwood Grove. We feel this is unacceptable for a renowned planned community like Reston that values the peace, health, comfort, safety and general welfare of its members.”

Callaghan said the neighbors “no not oppose dog parks.”

“We advocate for their responsible placement and management,” she wrote. “Despite neighbors’ best efforts to encourage the Park Authority to effectively manage and create a sustainable solution for coexistence, we conclude that the only viable option is to close and relocate the dog park.”

FCPA Chair Bill Bouie, a Reston resident, says the park authority has taken steps to mitigate noise — but there will always be some noise with a dog run.

“Balancing the needs of pet owners and those who live near any of the Park Authority’s nine Off-Leash Dog Areas is a challenge,” he wrote to the RA Board. “Regardless of any rules or restrictions at our facilities, there will be the barking of dogs in general — such noise is a characteristic of dog parks. In fact, noise is a factor in many recreational areas.

“With that in mind, the Fairfax County Park Authority has implemented various measures to address the concerns of the neighbors located near the Baron Cameron Off Leash Dog Area (OLDA) while keeping in mind the needs of the thousands of residents who enjoy the dog park each year.”

Some of the measures include noise-reducing fencing material and altering park hours to be in line with Fairfax County’s new noise ordinance. Bouie said the park authority has no funding or plans to move the park to Lake Fairfax.

The noise complaints about the dog park have been going on for many 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.

A smaller group of Longwood Grove owners recently lobbied for the dog run to move to Lake Fairfax Park, even offering the park authority $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.

“We conclude the only viable option is to close and relocate the dog park,” Callaghan told the RA board at last month’s meeting. “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.”

Baron Cameron Dog Park/file photo

  • Waah waaah waah

    “The barking has created years of ongoing stress: the noise
    disrupts sleep, invades the peace and quiet of homes throughout the day,
    and can often be heard after the park has closed. ”

    Awwwww. Are you gonna cry now? Cry, cry for me crybaby! Cry!

  • El Southie
  • Raykay

    All but one of those neighbors on the initial lawsuit was there before the dog park was built. That’s like moving next to a elementary school and complaining about the noise the children make. They are right though. A move needs to happen. By the neighbors. The thousands of people who use the dog park are sick of hearing from them. It causes stress to all of us. Please leave.

    • qwerty

      I ruff you.

      • Cary Coryell

        100% in agreement

    • restonista

      Agreed. Looks like a large majority of owners moved in after the dog park was already there. This part of their argument I don’t understand, or better yet, how they have an argument to begin with.

  • RESTON OG

    The Reston Association has basically turned into a bad jobs program. The only thing they are really capable of is assessing fees and fines. Decision Making? Forget about it.

    • Decision Baker

      What is sorely need here are two things that RA can implement quickly and with dignity:

      1) DNA registration for dogs
      2) parking meters

      These are great revenue generating ideas, please new candidates step forward to take ownership.

      • Cary Coryell

        I’m sorry, DNA registration? What the hell are you talking about?

        • Richard

          It’s ridiculous on a city-wide scale. I suppose Decision Baker is making the proposal in jest. But certain small homeowner associations require that any dogs living in their association have their DNA registered so poops that are not picked up on the property can be identified to the dog and the owner fined. There are actually companies that provide this service. As dog defecation can be a real sore point in communities, it may not be a bad idea in certain circumstances, but it’s not feasible for all of Reston. I find that for the most part, RA and Reston dog owners do a pretty good job in this area. When I was a kid in Reston, many dogs roamed free and I was stepping in the stuff all the time. These days there are even free poop bags available on many paths in prime dog-walking areas.

          • Cary Coryell

            Never knew that people required DNA registration for poop purposes–but regardless, that has nothing to do with this article or the issue at hand (neighbors wanting the park closed due to noise).

  • Richard

    This isn’t a RA issue. The dog park is a Fairfax County park, not a RA park. Furthermore, there are easily as many people in Reston interested in keeping the dog park where it is than the few neighbors who complain about it. RA shouldn’t be taking sides on this issue.
    Bill Bouie had a great point. Recreational areas often produce noise. There are benefits to living near them, but noise can be an issue. I love the trails within Lake Fairfax Park, but all summer long I have to listen to the loud speakers and other noise that comes out of the park. Not a complaint – just a reality.

  • John Higgins

    I will be curious to hear the best pitch the neighbors can make. If this was, indeed, meant to be a temporary site, the Park Authority has some answering to do. Personally, I’d like to see it stay. I don’t own a dog, but I go frequently just to watch them romp and socialize.

    The complaint about traffic adversely affecting the exit from Longwood Grove is amusing. I hope they have something stronger in the argument bag. On the other hand, we should be slow to judge based on nothing but our own experiences. I can think of many occupations calling for sleep during the day (police, fire, paramedics, medical professionals for starters). Their needs might not be persuasive, but let’s not dismiss them.

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