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Friday, April 27, 2007

Dog Park Action Alert

Your help is needed! Please read through the below details (and bear with us - we know this is a lengthy email, but there is a lot to say) and submit your comments on the future design of the Clarendon Dog Park to Arlington County by Tuesday, May 1st. Your participation is critical if we are to impress upon the county our concerns about their designs.

Arlington County has developed three proposals for the configuration of the space at 13th Street and Herdon. These proposed designs are the next step, now that at least part of the area has been designated an official Arlington County Community Canine Area (CCA).

The following are some of the concerns or goals we believe most CCA users share. If you agree with them, it would be helpful if you included some or all of them into your comments, so that the parks department will understand they are dealing with a unified group here. Please note these points are only for guidance, and we are not trying to tell you (a particularly well-educated and articulate group of people!) what to say or how to say it!

1) SPACE: The county has called for the park to be "approximate one half" of the size of the lot at 13th and Herdon, or about 16,000 square feet. The phrase "about half" could also mean a little more than half, not something that the county appeared to consider. A CCA which is significantly less than 16,000 square feet (such as the ones outlined in plans 2 & 3, which were developed due to a misreading of the Clarendon sector plan**) would not meet this goal. We have significant concerns about a CCA that is only some 10,000 square feet. Such a limited space would compact the community of dogs into a much smaller area than they are used to, and, we believe, would lead to more barking and, potentially, more fights. That would be extremely detrimental to our sincere and concerted efforts to try and minimize the noise from the park for the neighbors. Also, as a part of the space issue, we believe that the park needs to be quite long, to allow humans and their dogs to get good exercise playing fetch, and it also needs to include a section for those dogs and humans who don't want to be in that traffic.

2) COMMUNITY: As one of our members so beautifully stated, the CCA isn't just for dogs. It really is a community of people, both those who bring their dogs to the park for exercise and socialization and those who come to watch the dogs as they play. The CCA is a valuable community resource that helps strengthen the Clarendon community as a whole. People at the park gather together and socialize every day, discussing community events, sports, development, politics -- local and national, while we watch our dogs and pick up after them. We are a community of people with dogs. These interactions help neighbors to get to know each other and to build a sense of community. The social aspect of the CCA also helps enforce the basic rules of dog ownership such as cleaning up after one's dog and always controlling one's dog's behavior and sharing behavior and growth training tips.

3) BUFFER: We believe there is strong agreement among the community and CCA supporters about the need for a buffer all the way around the CCA, not just one portion of it. CCA supporters want to minimize our conflicts with the neighbors on all sides. Such a buffer could be green: trees, etc. None of the current proposals incorporate a balanced buffer zone around the entire park.

Those are the main points. Additionally, we have heard support for:
1) positioning the park so that it gets maximum sunlight throughout the year;
2) creating an area within the CCA which could be used for small dogs (it would be critical that this be a structure that could be used when desired and open to other dogs when not needed);
3) An area for those who would like to watch the dogs at play from outside the park would be a good use of space;
4) A water feature could be fun;5) the draft Clarendon sector plan calls for the other use for the park area to be a "passive" use. One of the best ways to meet this goal would be to use the non-CCA space for demonstration gardens (butterfies or birds) or something like that., which could also function as a buffer;
6) A canopy for rain or sun (for the humans) might be nice;

Comments can be submitted electronically or printed and sent via snail mail to the county administrators. All comments must be received by the parks department by close of business May 1st. If you support the CCA and want to ensure its continued vitality, it is critical that you tell the parks department what you think. It is clear from the design proposal meeting that members of the Lyon Village will be participating, so it is crucial that we make sure CCA supporters' voices are heard.

Please click here to provide your comments. This site also includes pictures and descriptions of the proposed park plans.

Again, we apologize for the length of this message. Please don't forget to go to Arlington County and make your voice heard!
Thank you,
Clarendon Dogs

** At the meeting on April 17, Arlington County unveiled three proposals for the configuration of the space at 13th Street and Herdon. Only the first design would provide roughly 50 percent of the space for the dog park, while the other two would have reduced the dog park to 1/3 of the current space. These designs were evidently based on a misreading of the Clarendon sector plan, which calls for approximately half the space to be used as a Community Canine Area (not 1/3). We believe the county’s parks department has been convinced they made a mistake. Unfortunately, the three concept designs, with only the first including 50% of the space for the CCA, are still on the Arlington County parks website. Clarendon dogs believes CCA supporters need to continue to weigh in on how the space should be used.