Park Authority Unleashes Draft Dog Park Study, Plans for More Facilities

The Fairfax County Park Authority is one step closer to planning for more dog parks in the county due to an increase in demand and the authority’s currently limited offerings.

The county recently completed a draft of a dog park study, which was initiated in 2019 and aims to assess needs and priorities for dog parks throughout the county. Feedback was gathered from a survey with more than 4,600 respondents and the study was conducted by FCPA and the Fairfax County Park Foundation.

“The purpose of the study was to assess needs and priorities for dog parks throughout the county, and to adopt strategies for long-term planning, development and management of dog parks,” FCPA wrote in a statement.

The report calls on FCPA to construct at least one dog park by 2025 in order to meet service needs in the area. Survey respondents most sought a new dog park in the planning districts of Upper Potomac and Bull Run.

Revised guidelines and standards to plan for future dog parks would also be implemented.

The county currently has 13 public dog parks, 11 of which are owned and operated by FCPA.

Future parks would be created based on geographic distribution and the overall guideline of 20-minute drive access throughout the county and 10-minute walking access in densely populated areas. The density of licensed dogs would also be considered as part of future planning efforts.

However, the study does not recommend any changes to existing dog park rules or operating hours.

Volunteering could also become a stronger component of managing dog parks. The report suggests using volunteers to manage existing and future programs more efficiently.

A virtual meeting on the draft report is set for Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. A staff presentation on the findings and recommendations of the report will be followed by a public comment period.

Other recommendations circled around operations and maintenance. While the county found that maintenance standards and practices are consistent with other jurisdictions, a need for more regular maintenance — particularly waste management — was needed.

Others also flagged the need for more water sources, rule enforcement, and shade.

Comments will be accepted via email through April 23.

Photo 1 by Jay Westcott; map via handout/Fairfax County Government

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