Upgrades to Clarendon Dog Park Rely on Bond Issue

by ARLnow.com October 21, 2010 at 8:25 am 7,109 57 Comments

The Clarendon dog park soon won’t be just for the dogs any more. The park at Herndon Street and 13th Street is set to receive a $1.7 million face lift over the next year and a half. The project will transform what is essentially an open field adorned with plastic lawn chairs into a sleekly-designed green space that will be part dog park and part “person” park.

That is, unless the park bond fails in November.

All but $350,000 of the park’s funding relies on voters passing a $5.975 million park bond next month. If the bond fails, a new, piecemeal construction plan will likely need to be conceived.

“We would have to regroup and figure out how to proceed,” said Scott McPartlin, an urban planner with the county. “I don’t think anyone has the answer to that at this point.”

The current plan for the new park includes benches and picnic tables, a water feature, a demonstration garden, planed trees, solar panels to power a portion of the park’s features and a water reclamation system.

If the bond is passed, McPartlin expects construction to begin in late spring or early summer of 2011, to be completed by spring of 2012.

The county is currently conducting an online survey to determine a name for the park. With the exception of “Companionship Park,” the name choices — “James Hunter Park,” “Merchant’s Park,” “Nesmith Park,” and “Wheeler Park” — each have historical significance for the area.

Update at 12:45 p.m. — McPartlin clarifies that the $350,000 in funding already secured will go toward the dog park (in county parlance, a “community canine area”). The $1.3 million from the park bond will be used for the other improvements. Regardless of whether the bond passes, McPartlin says, the community canine area portion of the plan will move forward.

  • TAllen

    Metro, yes. Schools, yes. Community infrastructure, no. Parks and Rec, no. The county is looking at something like a $35 million budget deficit. You have to pick and choose because you can’t afford everything.

    • SoArlRes

      +1. There already exists a dog park like the one proposed. It’s called Four-Mile Run stream. And it costs… $0.

      • cj

        Dog pollution is one of the major problems for Four Mile Run!

        • Frenchy B

          Yep, dog crap and rainbow trout don’t mix.

      • Thirsty

        Four Mile Run Dogpark? That would require going to South Arlington. And rubbing elbows with all the DC residents on weekends. Double ewww.

  • Mike

    Are you KIDDING me? 1.7 Million for this? Close the budget gap. We don’t deal with our own budgets in this way, why should we deal with our community budget in this way? Let me offer some sage advice to our county government from an old Saturday Night Live bit: DON’T BUY STUFF YOU CAN’T AFFORD! If you don’t have the money for something, then you shouldn’t buy it!

  • Lou

    I kind of got a chuckle out of this guy McPartlin’s quotes. He sounds like David Patraeus surveying the battlefield.

    Guess what, if you don’t do anything, it’s still a frickin park.

  • TGEoA

    The CB sure does love to piss your money away.

    A f–king shower for dogs? Hay-seus.

  • JamesE

    What a great investment. I can get my tan on while my purse dog plays.

  • tuesdayschild

    Lets call it “Wasteful Subsidy Park”.

  • Everwood

    I’m voting against this. Arlington County should not be spending limited resources on unnecessary improvements for dog runs, picnic tables, water features and benches. I can find all of those things now in Arlington without having to spend another dime on creating “more.”

  • Let’s Be Free

    Let’s see, in our neighborhood park we have cracked, ragged and rusted playground equipment that would have been torn out years ago if it were located on the grounds of a housing project. And the County says go into to debt to fund improvments to a dog park? You gotta be kidding me. It’s no wonder that the ACDC couldn’t get its usual list of suspects to go on tour promoting the parks bond.

  • Courthouse Resident

    Man you all are a pissy bunch this morning! It’s not just going to be a dog park anymore. This should make anyone living nearby happy as it’s not really quite that pleasing to the eye.

    • Burger

      Why should I pay 1.7 million for renovation of a dog park. I don’t live anywhere near there and all the “extras” drive up the cost.

      If it needs to be upgraded fine but do we really need to install “picnic tables, a water feature, a demonstration garden, planed trees, solar panels to power a portion of the park’s features and a water reclamation system.”

      That is spending money to spend money that only really impacts a small section of Arlington when using the money to pay for things like…I don’t know maybe keeping the non-Central libraries open every weekday could be a start.

      • Courthouse Resident

        First, the ballot doesn’t say “Burger will pay 1.7 million to upgrade this park.” Also if you do the math, only 1.35 million is coming from the parks bond.

        Second, You don’t live anywhere near there. Fine, take some form of public transit, a bike or your own car there. Let me know if you need the address.

        Do we really need to install:
        Picnic tables – yes, where else am I supposed to have my outdoor picnic?
        A water feature – yes, it calms me while I eat my picnic
        Demonstration garden – I’m not very good with plants – this might help me learn
        Planed trees – well yes – it gets hot in the summertime. Shade is helpful.
        Solar panels – just trying to use some alternate forms of energy here
        water reclamation system – yes, see water feature

        “That is spending money to spend money that only really impacts a small section of Arlington” – Everyone is welcome to use it!

        “When using the money to pay for things like…I don’t know maybe keeping the non-Central libraries open every weekday could be a start.” keeping non-Central libraries open every weekday only impacts a portion of the county – so it doesn’t matter to me. (Besides we have the internet – you’re on it right now!)

        • david

          $1.35 million is an absurd amount of money to spend to essentially upgrade an already functioning dog park.

          • Courthouse Resident

            But it’s not going to be a “dog park” anymore. It will be a park that has features and a special area for the dogs. And to be honest – I believe it has never been officially listed with Arlington County as a “Dog Park”. That’s just what it’s been used for essentially.

        • Lou

          The water feature will probably be a real nice one like the one in Crandal Mackey park in Rosslyn.

        • Burger

          Where do you think the other 350K is coming from? The the 1.3 is coming from this bond issue. Is there some private citizen donating 350K I am not aware of but it is coming from previous bond issuances (as the Sun Gazette notes…try to keep up).

          The county is running a 35 million dollar deficit for next year…maybe you should pay attention to what is going on beside the need to blow a million dollars on a dog park that will still only get dogs.

          You still haven’t provided me a ground reason as to why the rest of Arlington should subsidize your pet projects, pun intended, in light of the debt Arlington is accumulating. I’ll make a bet that once this project is done, only dog owners will still of to the park and I’ll never see anyone there.

          Maybe Arlington Co. should concentrate on maintaining services like returning library hours back to their normal schedule…not everyone can afford those snappy e-readers and go to the library to read books or get on-line…instead of spending money on unnecessary projects that only increase the infrastructure budget (i.e. the current cost to maintain a dirt field with a couple of trees with one including solar panels, water reclamtion, etc). This has caused an increase fees for services above and beyond the rate of inflation for just about everything Arlington provides – go look at the rate increase of your sewage bill over the last 5 years.

          Remember, money doesn’t drop out of the sky to pay for the inane projects.

          • Courthouse Resident

            I don’t have a sewage bill. Haven’t had one for 4 years. Didn’t know that the rest of Arlington will subsidize only this project. Good thing living here in Courthouse that I don’t spend a dime on projects that are important to others in the County. Boy would that tick me off. Also I don’t have an e-reader. I don’t read anything. Except the bond issue that was on the ballot for which I already voted yes.

  • alebt

    Between this, the trolley, and the Arlington Mill project, the North tract plan for Crystal City, I am feeling poor, poor, poor with no end in sight. Please vote no on the bond question.

  • Really?

    As a dog owner, Democrat and oft-supporter of the County Board, I’m voting against this, too. Really? A dog / people park tart up with the recent budget shortfall and tax hikes.

    Argh. They’re making it difficult for even their traditional supporters to get behind them. This is truly a historic political suicide pact by an entire local government!

    • Burger

      This has been going on for years with the extravagent spending. Maybe you should look beyond one party rule.

  • Rosslyn

    Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll vote against it. This is not a proper expense in the current economic climate.

  • South Arlington

    I have a dog and frequent Towers and Shirlington dog parks. But there is no reason to spend $1.7 million with this large of a budget deficit when Arlington has such a great network of dog parks already. People in Clarendon can drive the 3 miles to Shirlington if they want to enjoy the best dog park in the region.

  • arlvatom

    Lets see – highest income demographic in the country living within walking distance of the “park” – plenty of discretionary income to spend at Liberty Tavern, Eventide, Whitlows the nail and tanning salons – make the users pay!!!! I’m sure that they can raise a sufficient amount to improve the “park” – $1.7 million is excessive! I’m voting no on this bond.

    • Skeptical

      Bingo. Gulf Branch, with its educational nature center, butterfly garden, proximity to Potomac trails and a blacksmith forge, had to go begging for neighborhood donations while Santa brings the doggies and their owners an upscaled fountain park at an upfront cost of a couple mil?

      The fact that dog owners themselves are saying “too shaggy” ought to be a great big red flag here. Parsing the funds and saying “only 350 grand is going to the dogs” doesn’t cut it. Anyone who doesn’t want to exercise a dog there is going to go somewhere else to enjoy the outdoors, away from barking, pooping and the frequently oblivious owner behavior that has driven my dog-owning friends away from these places already.

  • Jack

    Dog parks are awesome – but this is just ridiculous. the dogs don’t care about water features and solar panels. put in some grass and a picnic table… under $1000.

  • Deb

    More info here (from the County):


    This program funds Parks Maintenance Capital {Page C-11} and provides for recurring, systematic re-investment in existing facilities to insure efficient, safe, high quality park and recreation facilities. The projects identified include the Rocky Run Park {Page C-29} as well as other projects where the playgrounds, fields, courts and other amenities have reached the end of their useful life and need replacing. In addition to maintenance capital, this category funds projects approved in the Park Master Plan such as the Herndon and 13th Street Park {Page C-27}. The project includes a plaza terrace, an open lawn area, native demonstration gardens, pedestrian circulation and site furnishings.

    The parks land acquisition and open space program is also included in this category. The funding allows the County to support or expand recreational opportunities, protect or conserve existing open space, preserve unique land features, and/or provide additional green space in urban areas.

  • Jeff Miller

    Arlington County already has plenty of bonding authority available for parks projects — approved by voters in previous bond referndums. There’s need for an additional parks bond at present. See the Sun Gazette editorial – http://www.sungazette.net/articles/2010/10/11/arlington/opinion/acmt703.txt

    • Lou

      “There’s [no] need”?

    • Burger

      Jeff, you missed a “not” I think given the context of your post.

  • Jeff Miller

    Thanks, guys — you are correct. My comment should have read “no need” for an additional parks bond.

  • NorthAdams

    does no one ahve a back yard anymore?
    I’d like to upgrade mine can I have some of tha tmoneY??

  • Clarendon resident – no dog

    There are many good reasons to fund green space (a park) and to also strive to make it “green” (see solar panels and water collection system). I’m not going to try to convince those of you who think this particular park is not worth funding since it doesn’t impact you. Just remember the next park or community improvement maybe in your neighborhood, then what will you argue.

    This is an county improvement. Funding through bonds is securing funding for something that improves the county (like an improvement to your home – home equity loan). We all do it. In fact that’s how most people would finance an improvement to where they live. It’s not as if the county is rushing to make this project happen. It’s taken over 7 years of planning and community involvement to get to this point. And what will happen should they not get this bond approval. They will building the CCA as planned and the part the rest of us can/will use will probably go undeveloped until they secure funding through budgeting. I don’t agree with much the County Board does…but when they’re improving where we live and making it more livable and not a concrete jungle, I’m for it.

    I have already voted (absentee) and have voted FOR this bond (and the education bond too because our schools deserve funding as well). I don’t own a dog nor have children in the schools, yet my taxes pay for those things as well…as they should. These are things that make living in Arlington a more attractive place to live and brings all our property values up. All boats float together.

    • AllenB

      +1 Couldn’t have said it better, though I do own a dog and look forward to using this.

    • Burger

      Sorry, you make a choice to live in your current location. It is very likely you knew that was a dog park since it has been there since I have lived in Arlington 1995 so your choice of green space should cost 1.7 million dollars.

      I eagerly await the next improvement in my part of the county but I’m not holding my breath given our local elementary school is currently running at over 110% population with no end in site for retification…maybe we can take that 1.7 million and use to fund another 7 years of studying on when they’ll build an extension onto the school.

    • Bug

      Right on.
      We don’t take our dog to Shirlington/Four-Mile Run stream since it is so polluted by HUMAN waste and other sewage being released upstream (just this week, for instance).
      The Clarendon park is a great resource for MANY residents of the County, not just those with dogs, and has been worked on and discussed for years.
      You can’t stop improving everything because some things are un- or underfunded.
      Now if they can just save the poop and power the lights with it like this dog park! http://justonemorepet.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/dog-poo-powers-a-streetlight-in-massachusetts-park/
      And gues what–this takes no money from schools–they are funded totally differently.

      • Lou

        How about just maintaining what we have? As I pointed out, Mackey Park in Rosslyn has a water feature that has not pumped water in probably three years. If they can’t find enough money to maintain what they have, why should we vote to incur more debt to build more stuff? This is not about just voting for something and it appears. This is paying for something, with interest, while other facilities stay broken.

      • Jack

        the stream has occasionally been closed due to waste from North Arlington – but the Shirlington dog park is way more than just the stream. the park has never been polluted.

      • jan

        What a cool concept: dog poop to power a street light. Put that methane to use!

    • Mike

      Should the public have to pay for your private pet? I don’t think so. You want to pay for my gas, metro card, or something else that I personally own?

    • Jack

      Dog parks are great – but the cost for this park is exorbitant given the need and the fiscal situation of the county. that park needs wood-chips, grass and some benches. it shouldn’t cost $1.7m. that’s just a waste of money.

  • RedDog

    I think this is a wonderful way to spend my tax dollars. Frankly I am surprised with all the tree huggers in NOVA that people are upset with the idea of “greening up” a barren field. I mean where else will my top dollar, show dog go to relax? He is not allowed on the metro. And that “dog park” in south Arlington, well lets just say it is rather down market. Kudos to the county for finally getting something right!

  • JimPB

    Might there be a reporting error? $1.7million total cost is far beyond what is reasonable, and especially so in these tough economic times that, among other things, are causing a projection of additional service cuts and tax increases. Scrap the plan and expenditures on this park for now. When economic times are better, a modest expenditure (a couple hundred thousand at most) might be acceptable.

    ARLnow.Com: WHat about a monthly competition for the ArlCo “Golden Fleece” Award? THe $1.7 mill total cost plan for the little dog park could be a great kick off winner.

  • DCChughes

    Frankly, while I love the dog park, this sounds like it’s actually turning the existing dog park into more of a people park. This is something the neighbors around the park have been lobbying for for years just to get rid of the “unsightly” dog park. This is just pandering to those NIMBYs out there. I’m normally all in favor of community improvements but I think this proposal is a not-very-well-hidden land grab.

  • Cesjr

    Everyone that doesn’t live near this park should go ahead and vote against it. But if it goes down, next time a park in your part of Arlington is up for vote, I’ll vote your park down. See, we can all be selfish. Or we can have a community with some nice common spaces. Your choice.

    And please, 1.7 million is not for a dog park. This park is not useable currently for anything but dogs, and the money is being spent to allow for a multiple uses. It’s also not a lot of money considering that the park will be used for decades.

  • Clarendon – no dog

    I have no idea what a park “normally” cost to build (and I’m sure most on this site don’t either) but I feel certain that if the cost of the park were over the top…the county board would have squashed it. This has been looked at every which way. Examined, re-designed over and over.

    We need more green space in this county not less. It wasn’t a land grab. This has been a park for years. It was a soccer field until the pet owners started using it. The corner lot was purchased roughly 5 years ago as part of this planned improvement. But the county can’t ask for funds until they have a plan in place.

    As I said previously…one way or the other this will be a park. With no bond…initially this will be a park for pet owners and when the county can pull the funds together (construction does not get cheaper so the delay will make it more expensive) they will end up improving the rest for those of us that can’t/don’t use the CCA portion. It’s really a question of whether those of you without pets think the county is better off with a dirt lot (for another year) or an improved park that all can enjoy…and whether you’d prefer it happen sooner and less expensively or suffer further delay and get more expensive.

    I agree that we should maintain our current parks but that cost is a part of the budget, not something the county issues bonds for.

    The water feature in this park was designed to be green. Water is reclaimed not pumped from the supply. The CCA needs a water supply anyway (for the animals mostly) so this was designed to serve a dual function and be green.

  • Clarendon Dog Owner

    There is a lot of mis-information being shared on this thread. As a resident of Lyon Village – the community adjacent to the dog park – and a dog owner I feel it is important to clarify some of the points.
    1. The Clarendon dog park located on 13th & Herndon Streets North was officially recognized by Arlington County as a “Community Canine Area” over two years ago. See their website: http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/ParksRecreation/scripts/dogs/ParksRecreationScriptsDogsDeaLocations.aspx
    2. The gross majority of the $1.7 million will actually go toward upgrading the utility infrastructure for Lyon Village which will have a “hub” in the new park. The actual budget for the dog park is a mere fraction of this – somewhere in the area of $100,000. Still a lot of money.
    3. This park was originally supposed to be Phase II of the Clarendon Park improvement (That little strip of green on the island by the metro). That never happened and it is my understanding that the $350,000 is a part of those unused funds.
    4. There are three stakeholders that have played significant roles in the redesign of this space: Lyon Village Civic Association, The Hartford Condominium and Clarendon Dogs. All have presented their vision before public meetings of the County Board. The County has done a remarkable job of listening to all of these parties and incorporating their ideas.
    5. The sponsoring organization, “Clarendon Dogs” has indicated numerous times that they are planning a fundraising effort to help offset the county cost for some of the amenities. Businesses will be able to “sponsor” things such as the bulletin board, bag dispensers, picnic tables, etc. We live here too and want county funds – our taxes – to be spent in the most responsible, highest impact manner.
    6. This redesign has been in process for years! If we do not take care of our public spaces as a community then we cannot expect our home prices to recover and hold their value, business investment or nationally recognized schools. People in the neighborhood refer to the park as “The Mud Pit.” But it is an instrument of strengthening community ties. I have met more of my neighbors in this park then I have in the area restaurants, shops, cafes etc. We are a safer community because of dog parks – our dogs are better socialized with both other dogs and humans, and we get to know our neighbors.
    7. If we only cared about our immediate neighborhood whether it be Clarendon or Shirlington or Carlin Springs, then we shouldn’t support a county-wide school system. We should only support the school closest to us.
    8. I for one think that in a county with over 30,000 dogs these parks serve a major function in our community. I would believe that even if the park was several miles away from my home.
    9. I hope the bond measure passes and that the park become a point of pride for Arlingtonians.

    • charlie


      This is how Arlington hides costs. Why is a PARK BOND being used for a utility upgrade for Lyon Village??? And since it is being BONDED we will pay for it over 10 years.

      HOME PRICES? Is it the responsibility of ALL of Arlington to pay for a park to keep HOME PRICES up? how absurd and frankly, obnoxious.

      Thanks for your clarification. It is very clear that a coalition of elite forces have been working to clean up this eyesore and since it has been going on for years, it must be finished. Of coruse all those involved (according to your list) are people who have a highly vested interest in keeping their property values high or at least hoping to get them back to where they were when they bought so they can sell and then leave.

      disgusting. and what is worse is that Clarendon Dog Owner thinks their clarification is the right thing to do, but to me, it only digs the hole deeper as to why this is an ABSURD project and waste of funds.

      Again, a PARK BOND to do utility undergrounding for the most elitist community in Arlington??

      • resident

        Your summary of the Bond and park improvements is too simplistic. Bottom line, the County Board approved the project and while you are entitled to your opinion – it is not the only one out there.

        • charlie

          too simplistic? Bond Funds for utility undergrounding? no, seems pretty straight forward. total shell game.

      • AllenB

        We all pay for things we don’t necessarily use. I don’t have children, yet half of my taxes goes to pay for Schools. Even though I don’t use them, I recognize that they are a necessary part of this county and it does help our property values in the end to keep them well-funded. There’s nothing wrong with doing things that in the end help our property values. That in turns fuels higher revenue to continue funding other projects/priorities.

  • B Wagner

    The county spends money on various projects, and each seems to draw a wide spectrum of supporters and detractors. Who’s opinion wins? I don’t know . . . but here is my 2 cents . . . the design is attractive, I love the sustainability components, and there are A LOT of dog owners in Arlington who will enjoy this park! Anyway, if the county can swing it (financially) then I hope it goes forward and I’m sure it will be enjoyed by many people!

  • Lou

    It’s a greenspace now, it will be a greenspace if you spend $0 on it. Since when did the government become necessary to point that out to people?

  • Clarendon resident – no dog

    Bonding and paying for a county improvement makes them less expensive in the long run. Digging up the street and park is expensive. Grouping the necessary work together means digging up the street only once instead of mutiple times (and repairing it mutiple times). The county is planning these things out in a smart way. Knowing the utility work needs to get done along with sidewalk improvements (some of the sidewalks can not accomodate a wheel chair or stroller because of the utility poles emanating out of them).

    I do not utilize the CCA but I have to say that I can’t think of a better way for neighbors to meet and talk. And with the improvements perhaps the non-pet owners can also partake in this exchange as there will be neutral space (no dogs) to sit, enjoy other activites and watch the dogs playing in the park (totally entertaining and relaxing – when barking is kept to single barks and not repetitive). What better use of open land could there be? Bringing the community together to enojy the outdoors and find common ground (literally and figuratively).

    The park is green space only in name at this point. There is one dying tree on the property. The improvements will bring actual green…trees and plants. Which coicidentally also improves the air we all breathe…pet owner or not.

  • Park supporter

    I’m not sure anyone is still reading this string since the comments have stopped but just in case…

    Many of you have the false impression that voting for or against a bond issue is your opportunity to vote for or against a project. It’s not, the county board has that power. If you do not like what they’re spending their money on…you have to vote for different board members. A good idea in my mind….but that’s another discussion.

    Voting for or against a bond is the public deciding how that project is to be paid for and who should pay. Since park and school projects are used by people over many years, it makes sense to finance it (amortize) over many years so that the residents of the county 10 years from now who are enjoying that park or school are also paying for it through their taxes…rather than the county budgeting the project in a single year and having this year’s residents pay for it all. It’s a way to spread the cost so that the county residents who live here now but may not live here later aren’t paying the bill entirely.

    Think of it this way….if you vote FOR the bond and you move out of the county before the bond is paid for, you won’t have footed the bill for the entire park but passed that bill onto the people that move into your condo or house. If you vote AGAINST you will be telling the board to budget it in an entire year and saying you want to pay for it (if you’re a resident that year)


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