On Tuesday evening, Dickinson Square West Civic Association hosted a meeting to present the pros and cons of creating a dog run at Dickinson Square.
Despite the positive support the project has received from an online survey created months ago, the meeting took a different tone. The presentation of the dog park brought out the vocal non-supporters at the meeting of between 60 and 70 individuals.
Pennsport resident Jordan Roth led the presentation in-favor of a dog run at the park. Roth went through the survey data and the list of concerns presented by the Friends of Dickinson Square and counteracted those arguments.
The list of concerns from Friends of Dickinson Square:
- not enough volunteers
- noise concerns
- more dogs, more problems
- liability to the friends group
- owners can’t handle their dogs, which can promote aggression
- the park is too small
- neighbors won’t support the project
The survey data collected online showed that 163 Dickinson Square West and Pennsport residents are in favor of the project, in comparison to 13 individuals in the boundaries who are against the dog run. Friends of Dickinson Square stated that this is not fully representative of the area, as not every resident knew about the survey or even has access to a computer to complete it. The main concern is the affect a dog run would have on the surrounding residential area. Roth and other proponents of the project stated that the noise and cleanliness would be no different than a normal day in the park based on the number of dog owners who already utilize the space. The creation of this run would create one concentrated area for off-leash dogs that would be maintained by a crew of volunteers. It was also stated that the dog run would have set hours, meaning that it would not be a noise concern to residents too early or too late in the day, as the run will be locked during those hours.
Once Roth’s presentation wrapped up, the civic association opened the floor to those against the dog run. Some residents mentioned how this community space should remain as a “safe haven for children” instead of creating more portions of the park that take away from that usage. Another resident stated that the park “doesn’t need to be intensely used in every place.” While no location has been officially selected for the dog run, it would most likely be placed on the lesser-used portions of the park on the Morris Street side. Eileen Gargano spoke on behalf of Friends of Dickinson Square, with a formal statement of the organization’s disapproval of a dog run for this park. Gargano also stated that she is not against a dog run for Pennsport, just does not approve of one for this location.
Parks and Recreation representatives were also in attendance of the meeting. Parks and Rec has no formal dog policies at the moment and follows the city’s guidelines when it comes to leash laws. That being said, at the moment the parks system has a total of six approved off-leash dog runs throughout the city. In order for a dog run to be approved for the park, Parks and Rec would have the final say in approving or denying the plans.
If plans for a dog park would be approved, Roth stated that there is currently a total of $26,480 that would be pledged to the project if it moves forward. This includes contributions for individuals and local businesses. With that large amount of money already pledged to the project without any fundraising efforts in place, there is still quite a bit of community support surrounding this dog run.
Due to time constraints, residents in favor of the project were not able to voice their opinions at the meeting. No straw poll was taken, so it is unclear how many individuals in attendance were for or against this project.