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Dog Park Working Group Will Bring Together All Sides

by Karen Goff — May 25, 2016 at 2:45 pm 22 Comments

Sign at dog park at Baron CameronReston Association has created a dog park working group in an effort to bring compromise to the dog park issue that has been, well, dogging Baron Cameron-area residents and dog park users for several years.

The move comes after citizens on both sides of the issue spent about two hours speaking to the Reston Association Board of Directors at their March meeting.

The problem, say many residents of Longwood Grove, a subdivision located across Wiehle Avenue from the off-leash area at Baron Cameron Park, is noise. The Longwood Grove residents say they can hear dogs barking at the park day and night and it is affecting their quality of life.

Affected Longwood Grove residents have complained to the Fairfax County Park Authority, which runs the park, and filed a lawsuit against FCPA and the nonprofit that formerly administered the dog park.

This spring, the Longwood Grove homeowners asked RA for its help, even though RA does not have jurisdiction over the county park. Residents have told RA that they would like to see the dog park moved to Lake Fairfax Park, another Fairfax County Park Authority park that is farther away from homes; or any available and appropriate Reston Association land and participate in a land swap with the county.

Members of the working group include Longwood Grove residents Carrie Sawicki, Linda Levy and Moira Callaghan; dog park users Barbara & David Okerson, Lee Stokes, Natalie Shanks, Robert Barnett, Heather Lawson, and Gabriel Relva; and former Reston Dogs (the nonprofit that administed the park until last year) members Cary Coryell and Rachel Kranz.

The group will provide the RA Board of Directors by late July a set of community recommendations that the association can convey to the Fairfax County Park Authority on improving the operation of the park.

  • RunDMC

    Two issues I see with moving it to Lake Fairfax Park (depending on where in Lake Fairfax Park the dog park would be) are the impact on wildlife at the park and the impact to campers at the campground. Dogs are seen as predators by wildlife and having dogs around regularly greatly impacts wildlife behavior including nesting habits of birds. And the campground is the largest in the county- how would dogs “barking at all hours of the day and night” impact the use of the campground?

    Also… if you bought a house next to an off-leash dog park wouldn’t you expect to hear dogs barking all the time? Or did the dog park get put in recently and the homeowners had no say in whether or not it was going to be created?

    • LakeNewportLady

      I believe it’s been there for 25 years….I would be curious when the folks who are complaining moved in.

  • Mike M

    I predict a dogfight.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Meh. Put a muzzle on it. That solves everybody’s problem. The dogs can still use the park, the locals don’t have to hear the noise and there’s not exorbitant cost associated with moving the park.

    • ifoughtpiranhas

      Absolutely ridiculous.

      • Chuck Morningwood

        What’s so ridiculous about it? This is what compromise looks like. Everybody gets some of what they want, but nobody gets all that they want.

        • ifoughtpiranhas

          MUZZLING dogs at a DOG PARK so that 5 neighbors across the street don’t have to deal with occasional barking? If you think that’s a legitimate suggestion…I can’t help you LOL.

        • TBird73

          ..or we can force you to wear earplugs. How about that? Sounds like compromise to me.

  • LeftPolitico

    Hopefully there are more working group members than the ones that are named. If not, how can this group be seen as fair if it consists of 3 people who presumably want the dog park moved, 7 who want it to stay where it is, and 2 who probably want it to stay where it is. It certainly appears that the deck is stacked against the ones who want it moved and, thus, whatever recommendations come out of the group have the potential to be seen as tainted. RA, how about a more equitable balance?

    • LakeNewportLady

      Maybe it’s because the majority of home owners there don’t care about the dog park and there are only a few who want to drag out this never ending “conversation.”

    • Ming the Merciless

      “Fair” would be if they had one person who wants it moved and 99 people who don’t (or don’t care) to reflect the trivial importance of this issue to Reston as a whole. But thanks for making the RA spend time on something it doesn’t control, Longwood whiners.

      • ItsNotMyMoney

        “Time is money”, any time RA spends time on something, it costs you money. Why are they spending time on something they have NO jurisdiction on?

    • qwerty

      Moving or closing the dog park is off the table, as stated by both RA and the county. Therefore, the group was formed to see if there were other mitigation options they could figure out together.

    • ifoughtpiranhas

      qwerty is correct. The park is not moving. This is the premise on which the working group has operated since the conclusion of the first meeting (at which dog park supporters outnumbered the neighbors by a laughable amount–which should show you the numbers behind each “side” to begin with): the county and the RA have stipulated that any further discussion about improvements to the park are predicated on the fact that the park is not moving.

    • TBird73

      Yes, I would say this is inequitable. There should be about 80 more dog park supporters. That would equitably represent the opposition to the park, rather than giving a ridiculously small minority disproportionate representation. Sorry, but all opinions are not equal, nor do they deserve equal representation. Those are both laughable fallacies.

  • Shankhadeep Shome

    I’ve seen dog parks in New Mexico with grass and trees and benches for the owner. It was a fun place to take my dog and relax and let her play off leash. The Reston dog park is all rocks and smells like dog waste. I would never take my dog there.

    • JoeInReston

      It is what it is – an outdoor dog park.

      I don’t mind the stones.
      1) You can clearly see what you are walking over. Grass can hide waste and leaving it more susceptible to being stepped on. The waste is easier to pickup. Because you can clearly see waste, owners are more likely to pick it up because it will be obvious to other owners if it isn’t fully picked up
      2) Stones are better when its damp. Your dog will be less dirty walking on wet stones than wet grass and mud.

  • TBird73

    Oh, an appointed park board member advocating for park users..Gee, what nerve of that guy. It’s almost as if he’s doing his job…
    Oh, wait. He is.

  • JoeInReston

    Another benefit to not moving the dog park is that the location is in a denser area than Lake Fairfax Park. Many dog owners can walk their dogs to the park. Lake Fairfax Park is further away which would require driving.

  • Tammi Petrine

    TBird, the numbers have always been against the complainants… but that does not make them wrong. And that is my point. BB does NOT need scores of letters so why did he post his note??? This is a David/Goliath story. IF you know the facts of this case, you might be amazed. It is a case of ‘but for the grace of God, go I.” If you buy an expensive home across from a park, you expect noise from the activities there. You do NOT expect the FCPA to come in and change the uses (with no due process or hearings) to one which is highly detrimental such as an un-managed dog park where neighbors (and THEIR dogs) are subjected to hours of sustained barking all year long. And that’s exactly what happened to Longwood Grove.

    • TBird73

      Utter nonsense. I AM familiar with the situation, and your “assertions” are utter drivel. This is not David and Goliath. This is representing the “problem” in the CONTEXT of where it exactly exists. I know, but you desperately want to represent the problem outside of any context to make it seem like a greater issue than it really is. Sorry, but we’re all pretty tired of a vocal minority dictating what the rest of us can do. Your pathetic fallacy did not work in this case. And as others pointed out, most bought their homes AFTER the dog park. And facilities like this were always part of the park plan. If you’re too lazy to research what is planned for your neighboring prosperities, then too bad. If it was already there, then too bad. And “un-managed”?? I think you mean unsupervised by you is more like it.

  • JoeInReston

    Is there a particular rush hour time when the dog noise is loud? I have been there four or five times and the noise is non existent outside the park.

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