Apr 2 2016

Report: Off Leash Area in Dracena Park

March 21st City Council Meeting

The primary issue that was debated at the City Council meeting on March 21st was a petition to expand the area where dogs can be off leash in Dracena Park. Currently, there is a popular loop taken by dog owners that goes around most of the upper part of the park, where dog walkers are able to have their dogs off-leash. However, once they reach the main upper field area they are required to put their dogs on their leashes for a short period of time until they reach the pathway on the other side; where dogs are once again allowed to be off leash.

If this petition were to be successful, dog owners would be able to walk the full loop without having to put their dog on their leash. There is also a lot of opposition to this petition, primarily from those who live around the park such as Mark Becker.  Also, Council member Robert McBain, the Council Liaison to the Park Commission was opposed.

Patty Siskind, Chair of the Park Commission, suggested a solution to the issue that she and her colleagues had come up with. It would be to build a dry stack wall that would separate the dog area from the rest of the lawn. This would leave roughly one-third of the area for dogs to play and the remainder would be an area where people could play openly without concern for dogs. This dry stack wall would also help to properly drain the lawn because there is frequently a large puddle in the center of it after it rains. Building the wall Piedmont would have the ability to level the lawn, making it an easier and better place to play.

I believe that this is a proper solution to the issue, and once Piedmont has the monetary means to build this dry stack wall it should be done. It is a good compromise for both dog owners and residents who live nearby.

For my interview, I had a conversation with Trevor, a student at Piedmont Middle School. He was at the meeting because he wanted to argue in favor of increasing the area where dogs can play off-leash. He believes that Piedmont does not have enough open space for dogs to properly enjoy themselves and thinks that the compromise suggested by Patty Siskind would be a good solution. Trevor’s plans his next step is to attend several City Council meetings and to see the progression of this issue.

William Bird, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those the author.

One Response to “Report: Off Leash Area in Dracena Park”

  1. The proposal was pitched by staff as an expansion of the off-leash area but in fact is a reduction. City Code and signage from the past 20 years confirm this as did a letter from the Mayor who oversaw revisions to the Code the last time this issue was addressed at City Council in 2000. This history and existing usage mattered not to Council members who accepted the neighbors’ claims that a buffer zone was needed, many of who used the areas they now seek to restrict to others. So dogs will be allowed off-leash on the lower portion of the lawn while dogs must be leashed along portions of the loop. Good luck Animal Control officers. On the bright side, Council unwittingly fell upon a symbolic gesture by removing the stone wall from the proposal, perhaps a prelude to better relations between Park users and the neighbors.

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