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November 28, 2012 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Park the kid, not the dog.

Constructing life.

Had to deal.

It was an eyesore or a lifesaver for the neighborhood.

That big lot surrounded by the chain link fence.

Oh, some enjoyed the picnic tables under two clumps of trees….maybe not elegantly sculptured trees, but shade all summer.

And there was the line of scrub trees down one side – for those who shyly sought a little distance when needed some “private time”.

Dogs loved it. Frisbee throwing size. Toss the ball as hard as you can size. ( And again. And again…).

One of the largest dog parks in the Washington, DC area.

Well used. Well loved …well, sort of.

It was wide open.

No serious attempt at landscaping or beauty.

Mulched so prevent mud holes.

Double gated entry areas on two sides.

Pretty much everyone kept it picked up.

Form follows function.

Princess with dog. (1777 Image: US public domain/commons.wikimedia.org)

But you can’t please everyone.

A few complained the mulch stained their fuzzy little white dogs’ coats. (It’s kinda like white couches…a lifestyle choice)

Some complained it was ugly. (What is really needed is a trendy eco-friendly example for the rest of the country to emulate. It’s one of those ahead of the curve neighborhoods. They know what’s good for the rest of us.)

Some complained it wasn’t entertaining enough for non-dog residents.

True.

Hard on strollers with just the sidewalk around the outside. Can’t deny strollers an opportunity to interact with wildly running dogs out for their rare outdoor exercise time.

Only a couple of swings outside the fenced area on the nice grass.

Not one place for children to splash and play in a fountain or pretend river in hot weather.

Besides why should neighborhood children be forced to use the huge park just a few blocks away? Or that other one in the other direction also very close, also well equipped?

Children can’t drive anymore than dogs can! And who could ask children to walk!

Just silly.

Dogs love to walk. Not kids.

Marsham Children, Gainsborough.1787. (Image: US Public domain/commons.wikimedia.org)

In May, the County awarded contracts to start the renovation of James Hunter /Clarendon Dog Park (in the planning since 2007.)

It’s going to be glorious.

Well worth the $1.8.5 million dollars that will be spent: (see the final plan here)

A terraced elevated plaza area (overlooking the canine area)- with tables and benches. Pedestrian areas

A demonstration garden with native plantings that support wild life. (They aren’t talking about the local bar scene, are they?)

Trees will surround the park (Good they cut down those existing trees. They were in the way)

A water feature. (Soothing for mind and foot – or will they mind that?)

Kiosk, “Comfort Station”, and drinking fountain

All using sustainable alternative energy with solar cells

Boasting of a system to retain, purify, and recycle rainwater. (Solar cells will run the pumps for the passive subsurface irrigation system)

Using lots of recycled / environmentally friendly materials (only a little synthetic turf.)

Public art area

And there will be signs. They hired a special firm for signs. (Bound to be worth the money)

“Thoughtbarn, a multidisciplinary design firm, has been brought aboard to design, fabricate, and install the park signage, as part of a Public Art project. Utilizing a unique approach to integrating form, text, iconography, and alternative energy sources, TB has created signage that provides effective information and direction, encourages the learning experience,  creates a sense of place, and  enhances the over-all image of the park.”

Oh, and space for dogs (decomposed granite ground covering. Water source available).

Wolf Hunt by Desportes (1661-1743) (Public domain. Expired copyright. commons.wikimedia.org)

Dogs just want to have fun.

The design boasts of something for everyone.

But what looks good on paper, in reality, is sometimes different.

Know those wonderful residential floor plans that look so spacious on-line but the rooms turn out to be really really tiny? The final plan sure includes so many amenities.

Park construction is running a bit behind schedule. Due to be done by summer, 2012, it’s looking more like 2013. Construction actually started in October.

Dog park the week before Hurricane Sandy

There’s been a bit of controversy about the expense.

(But it will be a vanguard design! A beacon of enlightenment!)

One neighborhood woman hotly defended the costs saying, “It about time those of us who support the area – who shop in Whole Foods, and Pottery Barn – who are the ones who bring in all the nice stores so others can have access to those – have something nice in the neighborhood.”

OK.

In any case, it’s good the construction contracts were let before Hurricane Sandy.

Some people might be rethinking the $1.6 to $1.85 million expense for a dog park.

1805 painting by Reinagle (Image: US Public domain/ commons.wikimedia.org)

What? We have to do something to fill time while waiting.

Sounds top of the line, so if you’re in the area, get that leash ready!

(Does any one know if decomposed granite will stain a white dog’s coat? Please say it doesn’t.)

Time to park it.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

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33 Comments

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  1. robstroud / Nov 28 2012 9:08 pm

    Another entertaining column! Thank you. I particularly enjoyed the image of strollers requiring “an opportunity to interact with wildly running dogs out for their rare outdoor exercise time.” We surely can’t deny those strollers their rights to get in the way of all those dogs for whom the park actually exists!

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 3:18 pm

      Determined parents seem to have off road strollers now….big wheels are so much easier for a large dog to grab. THanks for joining the chase

  2. PiedType / Nov 28 2012 9:10 pm

    Sounds great if it gets done. Around here, dog parks are usually established on bits of unimproved land that nobody deems valuable for anything else. It’s usually a barren plot with little or no shade for either the dogs or their guardians.(If there were nice trees, the land would be used for people!) Low areas that don’t drain and dry quickly might be filled with sand to avoid mud wallows, but otherwise, the only ground cover is whatever natural weeds and grasses were already in place. Improvements usually consist of a fence, a double-gated entrance, a water supply, and maybe a few benches.

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 3:25 pm

      Well, there’s work going on…at a snail’s pace. The German is keeping an eye on it. It sounds wonderful – but there’s so much planned – and the space isn’t all that big. Dogs just want it done and want to run.
      There are some elaborate dog parks in the area with swimming areas and stuff – but not near us. Several of them have been funded by dog groups, but the county/city has created some on easement lands or along the bayou.
      Unfortunately the baddies have also located them and daily break car windows to steal stuff – it’s gotten really bad. Little Rock, AR has a terrible problem with crime in the dog park parking lots.
      Colorado has tons of dogs – you see them in all the vehicles. Pretty nice place for man and beasts. THanks for trotting over

  3. Beth / Nov 28 2012 9:14 pm

    I know ensuring Sam’s paw fur remains pristine has been one of my top priorities. I mean, I did rescue her because she went well with our living room furniture. No wait, maybe Sam caused the furniture to match her. Still, I’m glad someone is saving those poor children from having to walk whole blocks to get to a park. Why in my day, I had to go up a hill to get to the park and once there, to add insult to injury, I had to use my own feet to get the swing going.

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 3:26 pm

      Really. All that walking and see what’s become of you! (Molly sends a bounce and tail wag to Sam!) Thanks for woofing along

  4. Kourtney Heintz / Nov 28 2012 9:24 pm

    I love how progress always leads to such headaches. A dog park is meant for dogs–not kids. Now no one can use the park. Awesome. And the cost for a dog park to make it functional for every one else is ludicrous. Let the dogs have their day!

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 3:29 pm

      Yep, They jerked out the trees, locked the gates, and parked their trucks all over the lot for weeks before any work was done…they did have to return a large trash container on the corner – people still have dogs and owners are extremely good about cleaning up after them, but those little bags have to go somewhere. Thanks for coming out to play

  5. Ally Bean / Nov 28 2012 10:15 pm

    Well isn’t that just the way! Plans look great on paper and in someone’s fevered mind, but when arf comes to woof things don’t work out quite as well as they should.

    But at least, if nothing else, the signage will be “integrating form, text, iconography, and alternative energy sources.” So the dogs have that going for them.

  6. robpixaday / Nov 28 2012 10:56 pm

    Whoa. Did I read that wrong? $18.5 million for a PARK?
    ::faints::

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 3:33 pm

      Well, it’s not quite that much – under $2 million. But still that’s a lot. Dogs are pretty accepting of whatever shows up. Thanks for howling along

  7. jmmcdowell / Nov 29 2012 12:07 am

    Decomposed granite sounds like it would be awfully rough under foot to me. I mean, isn’t that just broken down rocks? Or is it a fancy term for sand?

    And for most of my pre-teen years, I had to walk—gasp—three blocks to get to the park. How on Earth did I make it? You can bet my parents didn’t drive me there!

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 3:37 pm

      I’m not sure if that’s a fancy term (to justify expense?) for gravel or sand. Either sounds dusty…so later they will probably have to install something to deal with toxic second hand dust?
      The neighboring park is elaborate and huge with all sorts of new playground equipment ( including eco stuff like grass growing over the roofs of picnic tables). Sadly most kids don’t like the twisty slides and won’t go on them since the turns are so tight, you really can’t slide down…except at a very slow drag. Oh, well. Can’t please everyone – it’s all really pretty.
      Thanks for going off leash to chat

  8. EllaDee / Nov 29 2012 12:46 am

    Another great, head shaking post :) Maybe if they took the labels off the park… I thought labels were limiting and thus politically incorrect? Even ‘park’ doesn’t convey the intended use accurately, maybe without a designated use label everyone’s expectations would settle… What about ‘open area recreational use shared green zone’ with shared areas for the broad minded and compromising, and segregated areas for children loving dog haters and vice versa? Plus an area for children & dog loving park enthusiasts… It works in our local Sydney Park, despite a lot of angst about feeding bread to the swans & ducks who on occasion get chased by dogs belonging to indifferent owners (ok some owners may be illiterate and unable to read the signs, to be fair but surely not all…oh, does that mean my dog?…) everyone gets along ( and is annoyed by the path hogging joggers) and the kiddies have a dog free play area… I don’t even think it’s policed by a sign, just commonsense. Send this link to the County – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Park

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 3:43 pm

      I’ll forward that on to the German who is keeping an eye on it all. I’ve seen pictures from travel shows of a park in Sydney – it does look open and useable for all. This lot is so small, it will be a wonder if all the planned stuff fits. (and plants for the “wildlife”? Birds, I guess – there are tons of pigeons around and some rabbits and squirrels in the neighborhood…but they’d have to cross all those busy streets…).
      It’ll be interesting to see if it all gets done – and when.
      Thanks for barking along with the pack

  9. RAB / Nov 29 2012 3:41 am

    I think I know (knew) that park. Ah well. Some of us don’t shop at Whole Foods either.

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 3:48 pm

      The area is a busy scene. Lots of people met at that little park to visit while the dogs played. It needed a little care. I’m never really big on destroying living trees that seem fine. But this is an area where homeowners are paid to plant new trees along the street – right under power lines…and there are already issues with existing trees and power outages caused by trees. A little common sense and practicality, maybe? Thanks for joining the pack to chat.

  10. shoreacres / Nov 29 2012 5:21 am

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr……………….

  11. Snoring Dog Studio / Nov 29 2012 1:57 pm

    18.5 mil? I’m struggling with that and I adore dogs and believe they should have nothing but the best. Here in Idaho across the street from where I live is a dog park – it’s a holding pond in case of a flood. It’s dirt with one picnic table and no shade. My dogs refuse to go there.

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 4:35 pm

      Most people don’t mind some reasonable spending for dog park, but allotting just under 2 million for a small-ish area this day and age is a oddity…guess, the biggest point they make is that it’s changing from an “ugly” dog yard to a “beautiful spot for all”. But this park is named after a man was apparently instrumental in establishing dog parks.
      Most of the open parkland here and many dog parks are water retention areas which is a great use of land since it’s normally dry – but there’s also shade trees! Need that shade ( plus a water faucet and trash can!)
      Considering everything, sometimes dogs have more sense than people? THanks for barking along

  12. aFrankAngle / Nov 29 2012 4:44 pm

    Just another example of wondering why do we make things more difficult than they actually are.

  13. jannatwrites / Nov 29 2012 5:21 pm

    I had to laugh at the bit about a white dog being a lifestyle choice – that’s the truth! (It’s no accident all of our dogs are darker colors :)) And this park…looks like it will be nice and all, but nearly 2 mil sound like a lot to spend on a park. Sometimes less is more. I can’t figure out why we have to complicate things so much!

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 6:07 pm

      And dog coat color can affect choices of carpet, couches, clothing (this afternoon need to consider what colors hide mud well…)
      Around here dogs aren’t real picky about places to run…the owners tend to want some shade,though. It seems a little pricey – and not sure if there’s really room for all they have planned. The German is keeping an eye on it and plans to send an update. Thanks for howling along

  14. heylookawriterfellow / Nov 29 2012 5:38 pm

    But if the dog park has little doggie pianos it would be worth it!

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 6:00 pm

      Oh, the piano bar is just around the corner…one reason why the park will be popular after dark: an available “comfort station’! Thanks for joining the pack

  15. The Hook / Nov 29 2012 6:27 pm

    Best. Doggie. Post. Ever!

  16. Carrie Rubin / Nov 29 2012 11:48 pm

    I don’t know if decomposed granite can stain a dog’s coat, but I do know dogs’ poo can stain my shoes…

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 29 2012 11:56 pm

      They better be pickin’ that stuff up – nothing makes dogs and cats more unwelcome. Thanks for running with the pack

  17. robincoyle / Nov 30 2012 12:09 am

    Dog people are crazy about their dogs and will to spend 1,000 gazillion of my tax dollars on beloved Fifi.

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 30 2012 9:49 pm

      It does seem a bit excessive considering dogs aren’t real demanding. It’s county/city money, but wouldn’t surprise me if there was a grant in there somewhere. Thanks for the howl

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