GRANOLAPARK: Who let the dogs out?


The Takoma Park city council, that’s who!

They all but voted to advance to the next dog-park construction phase at Heffner Park.

The council doesn’t vote in work sessions. But, in last Monday’s work session about dog park development options, they all said they lean toward building a dog park at Heffer.

“We need to get a dog park built,” said Mayor Bruce Williams. “There’s a lot of people who would like to see it done sooner than later.”

The council nodded in approval as city manager Brian Kenner said city staff is planning to have a functional dog-park in 2015.


Around 20 residents turned out to comment. Generally, those who raised objections were people who lived near the proposed locations.

The Heffner Park site is at the end of a Darwin Avenue, a quiet, narrow cul-de-sac. Local residents are worried about increased traffic and parking problems, as well as potential noise, loose dogs, and dog poop.

Dog poop was discussed (and we do mean “disgust”) way too much.  We do not want to think about dog poop as we drink. Very inconsiderate!


The dog-park activist tactic of creating a false sense of this being long overdue was successful. The council mentioned all the e-mails and calls they’ve had expressing impatience.

The way the pro-parkers put it, the city has been discussing dog parks for ten years. So, It’s time to quit talking, they say, and get to it! Fetch!

Uh, maybe the city talked about dog parks three separate times (including this one) over a ten year period, but it wasn’t a continuous process. The city decided against it twice (for good reasons), and the discussion stopped for a few years in between. The “ten year discussion” phrase is a spin worthy of a Fox News commentator.


We got dizzy from rolling our eyes as some proponents made it sound like dog-parkless Takoma Park is doggie-hell. If that’s true, it begs a couple of questions.

First, if Takoma Park is so awful for canines – with “dangerous” sidewalks, no dog-friendly amenities, and hour-long, daily drives to other dog parks  – why did these city residents decide to get dogs?

Second, why should the rest of us taxpayers have to pay for their unwise decision?

It’s not that we are against the dog park (though we feel sorry for the neighbors getting this rammed down their street), but we hate arguments that get laid on so thick, they start to crack.


Speaking of taxpayers, here’s what we will be shelling out: between $4200 – $5600 for chain-link fencing, up to $1000 for benches, and between $10,000 – $15,000 for maintenance. That’s the low – cost option, which they are likely to take for this “pilot” project. There are unknown costs that will likely come up for re-grading and building retaining walls.

They may want to improve the park if the pilot is successful. Then fencing, ground cover, amenity, and maintenance costs go up. Wrought iron fencing could cost as much as $36,000, for example, and yearly maintenance costs go up to $15,000 – $25,000.

The city is spending its way through the $70,000 set aside in this years budget for research and preliminary work on the dog-park.

– Gilbert

Illustration by William L. Brown

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About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.