There’s a new sign at the Shirlington dog park that states what should have been obvious: that riding a bike or a scooter through an area where dogs are running around off leash is a bad idea.
“It’s been an ongoing issue that we hope the sign will rectify,” said Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “We’ve noticed that people are riding bikes and scooters down the paved trail in Shirlington dog park. The off leash dogs get excited and chase, creating an unsafe environment for both man and beast.”
“As there are loads of trails in Arlington for bikes, we are asking people not to bring their bikes and scooters into the park to reduce the risk to park-goers,” Kalish added. “This… is an example of our ongoing work with the community to make Arlington parks fun and safe for all.”
The sign asks that anyone who spots a violation of the rules call Arlington’s park rangers at 703-525-0618.
The second annual Bark in the Park event will be taking place this Sunday, June 12, after being rescheduled due to anticipated storms last weekend.
The free event will be taking place at the James Hunter Dog Park, also known as the Clarendon dog park, from 3-6 p.m.
The event will feature live music by Americana group Caroline Ferrante and the Whole Magilla, bites from the Smoking Kow BBQ food truck, and plenty of activities and goodies for human children and four-legged “kids” alike. Dog exhibitors will also be on hand to answer any pet related questions.
There is still time to enter the event’s first annual “Cutest Pooch Contest.” Dog owners can upload a photo of their pup, while any animal lover can vote for their favorites. The winning entry will receive pet- and owner-appropriate prizes.
That’s what Arlington County is telling dogs and their owners who got stuck inside the James Hunter Community Canine Area (1299 N. Herndon Street) in Clarendon Friday evening.
A faulty latch is being blamed for the stuck gate that prevented dog park users from leaving. The fire department responded and removed the latch, allowing people and their pets to head home. A welder was scheduled to work on the gate today.
Arlington County issued a light-hearted press release about the incident today (see below), with the title, “Ruff Night Ends in Tails of Joy: We now know who let the dogs out.”
The Arlington County Fire Department came to the rescue of some two dozen pups plus their people last Friday after an inner gate froze closed around dinner time at Clarendon’s James Hunter Park’s dog park.
No one was howling to leave, but once firefighters removed the stubborn, industrial-grade latch, almost half the pooches and their biped pals hightailed it home, authorities reported.
“We want to apologize to the dogs and their owners,” said Jane Rudolph, director of the County Department of Parks and Recreation. “That gate had a date with the welder today.”
Park locks and latches are checked regularly and lubricated and adjusted as needed.
All eight of Arlington’s dog parks are open from sunrise until a half-hour after sunset unless otherwise designated.
The James Hunter dog park closes at 9 p.m.
File photo courtesy Arlington County
Van Doren, Talento Win Dem Endorsement — Tannia Talento and incumbent Nancy Van Doren convincingly won the Democratic endorsement caucus for School Board last week. Talento and Van Doren were the most-endorsed candidates in the race. They will now move on to the November general election. [InsideNova]
Female WW2 Pilots Gain Burial Rights at ANC — Bipartisan legislation signed by President Obama has granted Women Airforce Service Pilots, who served during World War II, formal burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery. Those rights were revoked due to a Dept. of Defense legal finding and policy change last year. [Voice of America]
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Arlington County officials have reportedly shut down a popular fenced-in “dog run” outside of a Rosslyn apartment community.
In a memo to residents of the Rosslyn Heights and Rosslyn Vue apartments on N. Quinn Street, building managers say that they’ve been ordered to remove the fence around the dog play area.
The decision, managers say in the memo, came from new Arlington Acting Zoning Administrator Arlova Vonhm, who decreed that a permit for building the fence around the nearly two-year-old dog run should never have been approved by the county.
Jace Bauer, a local resident, said that the dog run is “convenient and much enjoyed.” Via email, Bauer said the loss of the area is a blow for residents and for dogs.
“I recently moved to Arlington and have found this small, fenced in area to be a great spot in our community,” Bauer said. “I have met so many wonderful people in my first few months here while taking my one year old border collie mix out for a game of fetch. The nearest dog park (Clarendon) is a 30 minute walk, which is not practical for a quick morning or evening outing.”
The memo from building management, which suggests legal action may follow, is below.
Dear Residents of Rosslyn Heights and Rosslyn Vue,
A few months ago Arlington County received a complaint from our neighbors regarding the dog walk area by the leasing office. We have been attempting to work with Arlington County Zoning officials to comply with their requirements and appease our neighbors. Although this area has existed for almost two years, the Zoning Administrator, Ms. Arlova Vonhm, has decreed that the approved permit should not have been approved. Her decision is that the fence violates Arlington County Zoning ordinance and must be removed or we will be subject to fines and legal action for noncompliance. Ms. Vonhm has also been presented with multiple plans to relocate the dog walk to other areas of our property, all of which have been denied.
As such, tomorrow, November 20th, we will be removing the fence to comply with their order. Rosslyn Heights and Rosslyn Vue have always been pet loving communities and it gives us great displeasure to have to do this. Please take some comfort that we do not consider this matter closed. We will be obtaining legal counsel to bring this issue to the attention of the Arlington County Board (http://countyboard.arlingtonva.us/county-board-members) and County Manager, Mark Schwartz.
The next scheduled Arlington County Board Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, January 24th at 8:30am at 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Room 307.
Thank you for choosing Rosslyn Heights and Rosslyn Vue as your home and for your patience and understanding as we work through this situation.
Rosslyn Heights Team
In an email Vonhm, the Acting Zoning Administrator, confirmed to ARLnow.com that today was the deadline for the apartment’s property manager to remove the fence, after it was determined that the county had mistakenly issued a permit for its construction contrary to the property’s approved site plan.
The site plan calls for only landscaping in the area where the dog run now is, Vonhm determined, after receiving complaints from neighbors. She noted that the property manager has the option of applying for a site plan amendment.
“The County’s position is that the fence changes the nature of how the space is used, and creates the problem of dogs running loose and creating excessive noise,” said Vonhm. “The option of applying for a site plan amendment is still open to the property manager, even after the fence is removed. The County has worked in good faith with the property manager to come up with a viable solution that addresses the neighbors’ concerns about noise from the dogs.”
Photo courtesy Jace Bauer
Despite the cries of many residents for more open, green space in the county, not all park goers are happy with the parks that currently exist in Arlington.
Among otherwise glowing reviews, there are a number of one, two or three star Yelp reviews of parks in Arlington, detailing the numerous problems some visitors experience.
Complaints ranged from the park’s design, lack of proper cleanup by park employees or that the park just didn’t have enough to offer.
Parks in Arlington aren’t alone in receiving negative comments. In honor of the National Park Service’s 99th birthday, the publication Mother Jones this week shared some not-so-nice reviews of national parks across the country, in a post entitled “I Can’t Stop Reading One-Star Yelp Reviews of National Parks.”
James Hunter Park
James Hunter Park (1299 N. Herndon Street) — the Clarendon dog park — is dog-friendly, and has an open lawn, water feature and a “plaza terrace,” according to the park’s website. However, one reviewer claims the park was not designed with dogs in mind.
A man was transported to Virginia Hospital Center after crashing into the fence of the Shirlington dog park this morning.
According to multiple witnesses, the driver of the Dodge sedan revved his engine on S. Oxford Street and sped into the fence of the park, smashing through the chain links, metal poles and a tree. An Arlington County Fire Department source on the scene said he suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The driver was an employee of Arlington Collision Center, the body shop’s manager confirmed to ARLnow.com, and the Dodge was a car the shop was servicing.
Witnesses said the car barreled through the entrance to the park, but no dogs or owners were hurt in the crash. One witness said the car “wasn’t just parked and he revved his engine. He sped into the fence.”
Another witness said the driver never lost consciousness, but went into shock a couple of minutes after the crash occurred. ACFD’s rescue crew had to use its “jaws of life” device to tear the roof off the vehicle to remove the driver and place him on a stretcher.
The owner of Wag More Dogs daycare and boarding center right next to the park, Kim Houghton, told ARLnow.com employees of the collision center “race these cars” down Oxford Street “all the time.”
“From where the end of the street is to here, they just gun it with the wrecked cars they have,” Houghton said. S. Oxford Street is only a few hundred feet long. “I’ve told them they need to go slow because there are people letting their dogs out and it’s dangerous.”
The collision center’s manager declined further comment. No other injuries were reported.
The entrance to the dog park was severely damaged in the crash, and it’s unclear how functional the dog park will be until the county can repair it.
Maintenance issues continue to irk some patrons of James Hunter Park, the $1.6 million dog park at the corner of N. Herndon and 13th Streets in Clarendon.
Most recently, the gate at the front of the park on N. Herndon Street was vandalized and had to be removed, according to Arlington Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Roberta Korzen. Parks staff hopes to have a new door in place by early next week.
In addition, the artificial turf in front of the park’s water feature is currently roped off because it had to be replaced. Korzen said the sand base underneath the turf “hadn’t been compacted to the degree it should have been.” The manufacturer is replacing the turf under warranty, which she said also should be done by the end of the week.
Many residents have complained that the large stone water feature hasn’t been working for months; Korzen said it simply hasn’t been turned on yet, and, like many other water facilities in Arlington parks, it will be turned on for the summer this weekend. The water fountains to fill up dog bowls work, but the ones intended for human water consumption were both not functioning early Wednesday afternoon.
These issues add to complaints of some residents when the park opened in October. Among those complaints were the dust raised by the “crushed stone” surface that comprises a majority of the surface area in the canine community area.
One park visitor ARLnow.com spoke to today said the lack of shade is her biggest issue. Her dog was huddled under a table, the only place for shade in the dog area. Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow.com when the park opened that “shade was quite a challenge for our design team.” Parks staff installed trees around the park with the hope that, “in time,” they will grow to provide shade.
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) James Hunter Park, the long-delayed multipurpose park in Clarendon, held its grand opening Monday night.
The park has an area for dogs and amenities like a picnic area and demonstration garden for people. Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada helped cut the ribbon on the $1.6 million park, located at the corner of N. Herndon and 13th Streets.
But there have been some grumbles about the new park. The “crushed stone” surface, one of three installed at the dog park, has particular raised concern among residents.
“The gravel surface designed for the dogs to pee and poop on raises a lot of dust for the dogs and people to breathe,” wrote one park visitor. “One friend complained the stuff gets on the dogs and they are carrying it into the house. The same friend report the gravel got stuck in the paws of his dog.”
County Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the crushed stone “is common in urban dog parks,” and an underground irrigation system is in place to prevent dust. Kalish said the “pros and cons” of each surface — there is also synthetic turf and a rubberized surface — is why park planners decided to install all three.
Another complaint was that water in the fountain was chlorinated and murky with gravel. A sign warns against dogs drinking out of the fountain, yet some four-legged visitors have been spotted drinking out it anyway.
“Apparently the dog[s] can’t read the sign that says not to,” one resident said.
“Because we recycle the water in the fountain, we treat it with pool chemicals,” Kalish said. “Unless treated, water in fountains will promote the growth of algae and bacteria. While we know that dogs have been swimming in pools all over the nation for decades and therefore believe that the chlorine content in the water feature is low enough that most dogs won’t have issues, we wanted to warn people as every pet is different. If a dog is well-hydrated prior to playing in the fountain he or she will be less likely to drink much pool water. We’ve got a freeze-proof water fountain in the dog park area for them to use.”
Residents have also complained of a lack of shade in the evenings, heating up the metal benches to an uncomfortably high temperatures. Kalish said park planners expected problems along those lines.
“Shade was quite a challenge for our design team,” Kalish wrote in an email. “The park has plenty of shade in the morning, but it does lack shade in the afternoon — a problem during summer months. We planted trees around the park so that in time they will grow to dramatically increase shade.”
Photo (above) courtesy of Guus Bosman
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Patti Page picked the right dog, but Arlington County did not.
As we learned late last Friday, the opening of the Clarendon dog park will be delayed yet again.
Arlington is touting the “good news” that the Clarendon dog park supposedly is still on budget at $1.6 million. These latest developments raise more questions than can be answered in one column. I will answer three today:
Should it have cost $1.6 million to build this dog park? Can the $1.6 million be justified because “this is more than just a dog park”? Does this dog park inspire confidence in the County’s decision making?
The answer to all three questions is: NO. So what should it have cost?
I often find myself on opposite sides of the political fence from Arlington civic activist Tim Wise. But in this case, Tim has prepared an excellent analysis of what it has cost in the past to build dog parks in Arlington. Tim concluded that the County spent over $700,000 more on the Clarendon dog park than was justified by the costs of earlier dog parks. Anyone can quibble with this or that detail, but I agree with Tim’s bottom line: Arlington spent hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars more on this dog park than it should have.
Was it worth the extra $700,000?
The key to arriving at the right answer to this question are the frames of reference with which one should answer it. Those frames of reference include recognizing the “new normal” of Arlington’s economy and adopting a “core services” approach to Arlington’s budget priorities. Within those frames, the extra elements Arlington included in this dog park never should have been included in the first place. Arlington could have built a very attractive replacement dog park on this site for $900,000.
Why did Arlington go wrong?
The County went wrong because it failed to recognize that:
- The economy it enjoyed prior to the “Great Recession” is not coming back,
- The $700,000 premium that it misspent on this project would have been better spent on core services like schools, fire, police, or road maintenance, and therefore
- It has the wrong budget priorities in place.
It is bad news that Arlington spent $1.6 million on the Clarendon dog park.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
This time, Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the main features of the park have been installed, but issues with fencing and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance have pushed the park further off schedule. Kalish this time did not give an expected date, but said the park should open by the end of the summer, and “hopefully sooner.”
“We’re in the home stretch,” she said in an email.
James Hunter Park, as it’s called, is located at N. Herndon and 13th Streets. It’s planned to be a 0.71-acre park with both dog- and people-friendly features like a community canine area, pathways, site furnishings, public art, lighting, and landscaping, all of which have already been installed.
The park was delayed in the spring because of unforeseen issues with the park site, characterized as difficult soils, grading issues and “buried structures.”
This time, the specific ADA regulations regarding fencing and railing pushed the opening back. ADA requires dog parks and recreational spaces to have such facilities installed and then approved by compliance officers before the park can open to the public, Kalish said.
“We cannot open the park until the site is ADA compliant and all final inspections are approved,” Kalish wrote in an email.
The renovated park had an original opening date of summer 2012 before being pushed back to February 2013, then late spring of this year, and, in March, park planners said they expected to be open in July.
“We share the community’s frustration over the delayed opening and continue daily inspections of the contractor’s work to provide the best product as expeditiously as possible,” Jane Rudolph, Arlington’s Park and Recreation director, said in a press release. “The good news is that despite the timeline extension, the County has remained within the [$1.6 million] park construction budget.”
Construction issues will delay the anticipated “late spring” reopening of Clarendon’s James Hunter Park until summer.
According to Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish, a number of unforeseen conditions turned up during construction at the dog park site on the corner of N. Herndon Street and N. 13th Street. Some of the problems include difficult soils, grading issues and the discovery of “buried structures.” Kalish said although such issues are not unheard of, they will push the expected park completion date into July.
“This is not unusual at an urban site and we were able to make adjustments to ensure the park will be a great place for the community to gather,” she said.
Workers will spend the next several weeks installing site furnishings and landscaping.
“This space should look more and more like a park by the middle of June,” said Kalish.
Despite the delay, the $1.6 million renovation project remains on budget.
Although at one time the project was slated to be finished last month, the Clarendon dog park renovations are still ongoing. Now we’re hearing that the revamp of James Hunter Park could take another couple of months.
According to Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish, the new goal is for a late spring reopening. The current delay is on top of setbacks during the planning process, which prevented the renovations from being finished last summer as originally planned.
Last May, the County Board approved a contract worth more than $1.6 million to renovate the park, which sits at the corner of N. Herndon Street and N. 13th Street.
The revamp plan emphasizes several sustainable and “green” features, such the use of recycled materials and an automated water management system that will capture and reuse rain water. The water will be stored in an underground unit and will be used for onsite landscaping irrigation. The park will also have a system to collect and use solar energy. The irrigation pumps, for example, will be run by solar power.
The final design for the park shows a plaza terrace with an open lawn area, gardens, a canine area, pedestrian areas, picnic areas and public art.
In less than a week, James Hunter Park in Clarendon is closing for its planned renovations. A sign has been posted announcing the park will close on Monday, July 16, and will remain closed until next spring.
In May, the County Board awarded a contract for renovating the park, which is located at the corner of N. Herndon Street and 13th Street. The contract is worth more than $1.6 million.
The Department of Parks and Recreation’s website lists some of the sustainable features of the park’s design, such as using recycled materials during construction. Workers will also install a solar power system that will power the park’s signs, lighting and irrigation system.
There will be a system to collect, purify and store rainwater on the site to irrigate the park. The underground storage will maintain a constant supply of water to surface plants, which will cut down on excessive watering.
In addition to an area for dogs, the park will have pedestrian areas, an open lawn, gardens and public art.
Delays with the plan caused the revamp not to be ready by this summer as originally planned. Currently, the project website lists the park’s re-opening date as late February 2013.
Hat tip to Jeff Sonderman
Resident Warns of Bollards on Trails — Local cycling advocate Steve Offutt told the Arlington County Board over the weekend that bollards — posts put at the entrance to a trail to keep cars out — are posing a hazard to bicyclists and other trail users. “In the last few weeks, numerous bollards have been installed on trails in the County,” Offutt said. “I would… like to recommend that the Board instruct staff to remove the bollards that have been recently installed until such policy is in place.” [CommuterPage Blog, Sun Gazette]
James Hunter Park Improvements Approved — On Saturday the County Board approved a $1.46 million contract for a series of improvements to a dog park near Clarendon. New park features will include a plaza terrace, open lawn, demonstration gardens, water feature, improved community canine area, and a solar-powered irrigation system to reduce water usage. [Arlington County]
Columbia Pike Improvements Approved — Also on Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved a $5.7 million contract for utility undergrounding and streetscape improvements on a stretch of Columbia Pike. Work on the project is expected to begin in July. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Alex