After being closed for almost two months, a dog park in Mt. Washington will be reopened this Saturday June 7, despite the controversy still surrounding it.
The park was closed April 16 for maintenance and was originally set to reopen May 9. However, at a public meeting where residents met with city officials to discuss issues with the park, several residents called for the park to be relocated, citing noise complaints and safety issues. As a result, the reopening of the park was postponed until a compromise could be reached.
"From what I have been told, all parties have been addressed and the park is to be reopened on Saturday June 7 while a dialogue continues as to the best possible solution," says Adam Paul Cosgrove, president of Paws for Olympia Park.
Neighborhood tensions around the dog park, located in Olympia Park and built with a $60,000 grant, are nothing new. It's met resistance from a segment of the community since it opened two years ago and some say its caused a rift in the neighborhood that's only getting worse.
"We’ve been trying to work with the city for two years now," says Patricia Ward who lives across from the dog park and would like to see it relocated. "We would like to compromise. It has really divided our community. There are a lot of neighbors who are not speaking."
Ward says Olympia is being used less by children and families who are afraid of being attacked by dogs who jump the fence. She says it's also been especially troublesome for those who live near it and has recommended moving the park to a level area behind Olympia, close to the woods.
“We’re all dog lovers,” says Ward who owns two dogs. “We know the city needs dog parks. The problem is it’s so close to our homes. There is dog waste that isn’t being picked up. The noise is unbearable at points. There’s no other dog park in the city that’s in a residential neighborhood.”
As a result of the controversy, the dog park was never fully completed beyond constructing a fence to surround it. Cosgrove and other members of the Paws group are hopeful the park will be completed with added amenities. And part of these amenities will address some of the concerns of the park's opponents.
"We want to add circular benches..to provide seating, especially for our senior members. Right now there is a group of about 5-6 seniors who meet every morning with their dogs and have to bring their own portable camping chairs," says Cosgrove. "We'd also like to put more appropriate waste containers and construct the waste bag dispenser that the animal rescue leagued donated to us in 2012...We just want the park to look as good as possible."