RA Dog Park Working Group Has Long List of Fixes for Noise Issue

by Karen Goff July 25, 2016 at 11:30 am 30 Comments

Dog Park at Baron Cameron ParkReston Association’s Dog Park Working Group has a variety of solutions for keeping the peace at the off-leash area at Baron Cameron Park.

The ideas range from paid monitors to charging fee for users to installing noise mitigation and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements.

The working group, which was formed last spring in response complaints for a group of RA members who live close to the park, will present its recommendations at Thursday’s RA Board meeting.

RA has no jurisdiction over the park, as it is on Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) land. The involvement of RA was to bring both sides together to suggest solutions to the FCPA The RA Board will discuss and vote on one of two motions:

  1. Move to approve, deny, or amend the short and long-term recommendations of the Dog Park Task Force on improving the operation of the Baron Cameron Dog Park for the benefit of the Dog Park users and surrounding neighbors; or
  2. Direct staff to send a letter, outlining Dog Park recommendations and request for a meeting to discuss such recommendations, to the Fairfax County Park Authority Chairs, and copied to the whole Park Authority Board; the Fairfax County Park Authority Director, Sara Baldwin; and Fairfax County Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Catherine M. Hudgins.

It’s a saga that has been going on for several years.

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

Most dog park users say the noise is not a problem.

“What is it that affects your quality of life so much about living next to a dog park?” Reston resident and daily dog park user said at Jonathan Campbell said at an RA meeting earlier this year.  “At this point, [Longwood Grove] has become more of a nuisance to us dog owners than we could be on them.”

Over the last five years, affected Longwood Grove residents have complained to the Fairfax County Park Authority and lobbied to get the park moved either to the interior of Baron Cameron or to Lake Fairfax Park. The residents also filed a lawsuit against FCPA and the nonprofit that formerly administered the dog park, asking that the dog park be closed.

Last spring, the Longwood Grove homeowners asked RA for its help. 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.

“It does not meet the land use goals of Reston, the park authority or the county,” Moira Callaghan, a Longwood Grove resident who has been active in the fight for quiet, told the RA Board at a February 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.”

The working group, comprised of Longwood Grove residents, dog park users, and members of Reston Dogs (which formerly administered the park), says the Fairfax County Park Authority must be made accountable for the “management and maintenance of its facilities including the Baron Cameron Dog Park.”

The group suggests a sending letter to key Park Authority personnel and board of directors members and obtaining Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ help to improve responsiveness of Fairfax County Park Authority.

Additionally the group recommends:

Short Term Goals (within the next 3 to 6 months):

Park Improvements to Mitigate Noise:

  • Install a visual barrier between the two sections of the park to reduce interaction between big and little dogs
  • Distribute garbage cans throughout the park rather than having one consolidated garbage can location
  • Provide a new gate door to separate the entrances to the large and small dog areas
  • Provide full-time, paid monitor during dog park hours
  • Charge a Dog Park user fee to pay for the visual barrier and dog park monitor
  • Create incentives for volunteer monitors.

General Park Maintenance:

  • Take down existing mesh barrier along the fence on the Wiehle Avenue side of the park
  • Improve the landscaping
  • Regrade the park floor to improve drainage and increase safety
  • Prioritize park maintenance
  • Repair existing gaps/holes in chain-link fences and gate doors.

ADA Compliance:

  • Install slow-shut gates
  • Add accessible parking to dog park
  • Add accessible pathway from parking lot to the Dog Park

Long Term Goals (within the next 18 months):

  • Identify potential sites for additional dog parks to reduce demand at this location (Reston Association and Fairfax County)
  • Establish specific zoning ordinances for installation of dog parks in Fairfax County
  • Engage a professional licensed acoustical engineer to identify ways to significantly mitigate sound coming from the dog park which might include reducing the dog park’s elevation in conjunction with installation of a berm and solid 10-15 foot wall.

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Once again, the noise complaints are BS.

    Paid monitors? User fees? No and no.
    Most of the maintenance suggestions? Sure.

    If the people complaining about “noise” really want to make changes at the dog park and not just whine and hope this great community amenity goes away because they don’t like it? Let’s take a page from the Toll Road payment setup: tax/charge fees to nearby folks to cover the requested costs. That means Longwood Grove residents.

    • Rory of the Hills

      Would you enjoy having multiple dogs barking outside your house starting early in the morning and going late into the evening? To dismiss these residents complaints as mere “whining” is unfair.

      • Mike M

        I drive by there frequently. I have NEVER heard a dog bark. I’ve walked around the area. Never heard a dog bark. It does make me wonder.

        • Rory of the Hills

          I have never been to this particular dog park, so I can’t say. But I do know of at least one dog park in a nearby town that was truly a nonstop noise issue for adjacent residents.

        • JoeInReston

          I have walked to the park with my dog maybe 6 to 8 times. I have never once been able to hear the dogs until I reached the parking lot. Am I not going in dog rush hour? Is my hearing bad? It makes me wonder.

      • qwerty

        What is ‘early in the morning to late into the evening’? Since the dog park hours are 8am to 30 minutes past sunset, and Reston isn’t exactly the land of the midnight sun, that is surely an exaggeration.

      • LakeNewportLady

        I jog past there all the time and never hear any dogs barking…I just hear traffic noise from Wiehle.

        • This is what I was thinking. I walk in Longwood Grove and can’t hear the dogs. The noise from traffic is much louder.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Meh. Move it to the Tetra site, and spare all of Reston the maintenance cost of that boondoggle.

  • John Higgins

    Well done, Working Group. It never would have occurred to me that dogs bark less when owners pay a fee to let them run off-leash, or that landscaping and more trash cans would calm them. I’m thinking this could come in under $1 million if FCPA tries hard

    • Why do you bother?

      Right? And how in hell will adding trashing cans solve the barking problem?

      • Ming the Merciless

        It is well known that Evil often possesses trash cans (and sometimes, hall closets), and that dogs are faithful guardians who have to bark at Evil to warn us of its malign presence.

        • ifoughtpiranhas

          None of you guys have any idea what you’re talking about. The fee idea was nixed before the meeting it got brought up in was even over, so no idea why that was included in this article. More trees/improved landscaping was a suggestion both to mitigate noise–yes, as a matter of fact more vegetation does help with noise, not dramatically so but it is one small step that could be taken–and to improve the appearance of the park which is totally unkempt and according to NEIGHBORS, an eyesore. The suggestion about the trash cans has to do with the park dynamics of what happens when all owners have to bring their poop to one central location to throw away–their dogs follow, which means all dogs congregate at the entrance where the little dogs bark at everyone. Some of you guys should try actually going to the park or talking with someone who knows something about this entire ordeal before trolling and making stupid comments.

    • ifoughtpiranhas

      p.s. John Higgins, way to bash a group of opposing sides who are volunteering their time for months on week nights after work to try to come together and come up with some solutions to perceived problems for the sake of community–you’re a real cool one! Where were you at any of those meetings, making your superior suggestions to ours? BYE

      • John Higgins

        Your point is taken, and I apologize for personal offense to individual participants. Having neither a dog nor a nearby residence, and having no expertise to contribute, I hope you will understand my absence. But you might have noted that I addressed the board on the evening they proposed forming this group. I commented that despite caninelessness, I frequented the park to simply enjoy the free play and discouraged any reduction in park accessibility.
        Having participated in every discussion brought to the RA board for fifteen consecutive years, I deeply appreciate voluntarism. Where many projects go off track is the tendency for “scope creep”. I have no doubt that each of the suggestions we read about add value to the park. Some of them sound marginal or impractical, and that which does not add value, takes away.
        In short, my personal thanks to those who participated, but excuse the lack of enthusiasm for all parts of the proposal.

        • ifoughtpiranhas

          I think we’re all with you on the impracticality or limited impact of some of the suggestions. To be upfront I am a member of the “dog park side” of the working group, and many of the suggestions are quite frankly the best we can come up with in our attempts to try to ameliorate a perceived noise problem that, by the nature of what the park is, can’t be totally fixed. Parks come with noise, dog parks come with barking, there’s only so much we can do. It’s not been easy getting the two sides to come together without fighting and animosity, and the suggestions we’ve come up with are truly the best we can come up with–I and the rest of the group would be open to better ones should anyone have some, though I think you’ll find yourself at a loss.

          It’s also worth noting that the suggestions in the article are NOT our final suggestions. This was a list of sheer brainstorming, a “brain-dump” if you will and some of these suggestions were either fine-tuned or removed altogether.

  • Mike M

    Brutalist indoor dog park? With bocci ball courts? You gotta have stuff. I got answers!
    They don’t call me a genius fer nuthin’.
    No. They don’t call me that at all.

  • Sam

    Aside from maybe the visual barrier between big and little dog spaces (thus limiting interaction), I don’t see what any of these suggestions have to do with noise management. What exactly would the monitors be doing? Are they going to request any barking dogs to leave the park?

  • Robert Mowbray

    When was the dog park established, before or after the current residents of Longwood Grove purchased their homes?

    • ifoughtpiranhas

      Before all but one purchased their homes.

      • EliteinReston

        This is an easy thing to verify. Go to the Fairfax County tax administration site. Enter “Longwood Grove” in the address field. Click on each address. Click on “sales.” That will give you a sales history. I just did a quick search and found of 29 properties listed, 19 were sold after 2001 when the dog park opened. That suggests buyers and their realtors could have checked to see if there were any neighborhood issues before they bought the house. If I bought a home there after 2001, I in no way would fight a dog park after the fact. Shame on me for not doing research on the neighborhood before I purchased. Here’s the web address. http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/ffxcare/search/CommonSearch.aspx?mode=ADDRESS#

  • JoeInReston

    Perhaps the professionally licensed acoustical engineer, before “identifying ways to significantly mitigate sound coming from the dog park”, can gauge the extent of the sound coming from the dog park relative to Longwood Grove. How big a problem are we talking about?

  • Waitwhat

    Tear out the dog park! Put in a Hooters! (Didn’t see my wing guy here yet.)

  • 100% polyester

    Reston already has a monotor just a short walk away from tennis courts. I recommend a proper uniform.

  • kcowing

    I walk up and down Wiehle Avenue past the dog park almost every day. What dog noise? I never hear dogs barking. Why aren’t the locals complaining about all of the traffic noise?

  • KIKI

    Oh shut up

  • Lee Stokes

    One would have hoped that as a journalist you would have reach out to both sides for feedback and input, and also done some due diligence on the status of the legal case. Badly done, Ms. Goff, badly done.

    • Karen Goff

      Thanks for your support. I reached out to NO sides because this story is taken directly from the RA documents.

      One would think that as a reader, you would have read the other dozens of stories I have written on this topic, adequately showing both sides, in the last three years. IN case you have not here is a link to all of them https://www.restonnow.com/?s=dog+park

      Also, the case against the dog park has been dismissed, by the way. It’s been reported several times.

  • EliteinReston

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