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Shirlington Dog Park Plans Go Back to the Drawing Board

After significant community push-back, the County Board rejected plans to dramatically shrink the Shirlington Dog Park and urged further study.

At a work session last night of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group, Board members said that staff must return with new options that would either keep the 109,000 square foot dog park the same size or reduce it slightly.

Previous alternatives put forward by staff would have cut the park’s size by as much as 75 percent to comply with stormwater management requirements in the area of Four Mile Run.

But County Board members said more study is required on other possible options to comply with stormwater management and not lose what vice chair Katie Cristol said is a “well-loved” dog park.

“There is more that we don’t know about alternatives,” Cristol said. “Perhaps [staff] feel confident that you know them. I do not yet feel confident enough to recommend or approve or direct such significant changes to such a well-loved community amenity without a better sense of the alternatives for stormwater remediation.”

There was unanimous agreement among Board members on how to move forward. John Vihstadt said he wants it to stay “substantially as-is for the longest possible time,” while Christian Dorsey argued for a “programmatic approach” that ensures a community amenity is protected while complying with stormwater needs.

In a letter to the County Board ahead of the meeting obtained by ARLnow, Shirlington Civic Association president Edith Wilson and vice president Richard Adler said the Four Mile Run Valley working group needs subcommittees to deal with a slew of issues including the dog park. Not all options have been explored, they said.

The pair, who both sit on the working group, said the dog park has an economic benefit to the neighborhood as well as community and environmental value.

“The [May 17] proposals are remarkably insensitive to the economic and marketing value of the dog park — how could the county possibly think to make public a proposal to reduce it from 109,000 square feet to 27,000?” the pair wrote. “How would we replace the jobs, businesses and real estate sales this would affect?”

After the meeting, supporters were jubilant, including on a Facebook page dedicated to saving the Shirlington Dog Park.

“Our advocacy clearly made a difference as the Arlington County board members were all convinced of how deeply we love our dog park and how impassioned we are about saving it,” wrote one supporter. “All of us should feel a great deal of pride today that we successfully mobilized to save our beloved dog park!”

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