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
The Stories Behind the Valor Awards — Wednesday’s Arlington Chamber of Commerce Valor Awards ceremony included some incredible tales of heroism in the line of duty by Arlington’s first responders. In addition to acts of bravery by firefighters and paramedics, there were stories of valor among Arlington’s law enforcement officers, including police officers who prevented a suicidal man from jumping off the Key Bridge in January, an officer who pulled the occupants of a burning, wrecked car to safety, and a Sheriff’s deputy who jumped on the electrified Metro tracks to come to the aid of a man hit by a train near Clarendon. [Sun Gazette]
Shirlington Dog Park Cleanup — Volunteers are being sought for a spring cleaning at the Shirlington Dog Park along Four Mile Run. The cleanup is planned from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. [Examiner.com]
Moran to Host ‘High Level Cyber Summit’ — Rep. Jim Moran will be hosting a summit and panel discussion in Arlington entitled “Cybersecurity in a Time of Defense Austerity.” Among the panelists will be the Department of Defense’s Chief Information Officer and representatives from the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), U.S. Cyber Command, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The summit is being held on Tuesday, April 24 at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Ballston.
Olympic Gold Medalist Visits APS Schools — Steve Lopez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in taekwondo, visited students at Arlington Science Focus School and Washington-Lee High School. Lopez encouraged students “to say ‘yes’ to a healthy lifestyle and ‘no’ to underage drinking.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Photo courtesy Michael Resnick
(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) What is now a muddy, run-down dog park in Clarendon will soon be transformed into an attractive, modern park serving both people and pets.
James Hunter Park (the new name for the previously unnamed “Community Canine Area” at N. Herndon and 13th Street) will feature picnic and seating areas, a demonstration garden, water feature, comfort station, kiosk, decomposed granite dog play area, grass lawn, public art and permeable paved walkways. Trees will line the park, which is located about two blocks northwest of the Clarendon Metro station.
Today, the park features a picnic bench and a couple of old plastic lawn chairs amid an open grass-and-dirt field.
Construction on the park is expected to begin in late fall/early winter and wrap up during the summer of 2012, according to project manager Scott McPartlin. That’s a couple of months behind a preliminary schedule announced last fall.
The project’s $1.85 million cost will be paid primarily with funds from a park bond approved by voters last year.
Looking to attract attention from members of the opposite sex in Arlington? If the past week’s Missed Connections on Craigslist are any indication, all you need is a dog.
On at least four separate occasions in the past week, lovelorn admirers have posted messages in hopes of connecting with attractive dog owners.
It started last Tuesday, with a woman seeking a man she had met at the Shirlington dog park.
Hi. I met you at the dog park on Saturday or Sunday (the days seem to drift together). You have a young dog named Kai (I think I have spelled that correctly). I have three dogs, our dogs played in the water and we spoke briefly.
I know it was your first visit to the dog park, and I hope to see you again!
Then, on Saturday, another Shirlington dog connection at Caribou Coffee — this time, a man seeking a woman.
You tied your dog up outside of Caribou to get a coffee and some water for the pup. I was with my friend at the table next to you – I was the guy sitting closest to you in a red shirt. You walked away before I had the chance to really talk to you, but I would like to meet you back there and buy you a cup of coffee some time.
Also posted on Saturday, a man seeking the “cute blonde with the adorable dog” in Ballston.
You were the cute blonde with the adorable dog named Doobie. I guess he didn’t like us because he kept barking. Sorry about that. If it was up to me I would have just played with him all night. Let’s get drinks at the same place sometime so I can make it up to you two.
Finally, a female dog owner posted yesterday seeking a “blond and handosome” dog owner she spotted at the Shirlington dog park.
I know this is a long shot but I thought I’d try…
Tonight I saw you at the dog park with a retriever and an older gentleman. You were hard to keep my eyes off of actually but I didn’t want to weird you out. I was the brunette with a pink shirt and little beagle.
I think we live in the same sub division maybe because I was walking the same route home.
How about a playdate with the pups…or a regular one?
The controversial proposal to ban children from Arlington dog parks will not come to fruition after all. As Gwyn Donohue of the blog Two Dog Tales first reported, the county has decided to keep the existing rules in place.
Officials have been taking in feedback and holding listening sessions since the proposal was brought up earlier this year. The idea was to ban children under the age of 8, and to require parental supervision for children aged 8 through 14.
In a letter to Community Canine Area sponsors and users, Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Director Dinesh Tiwari said the existing rules and regulations are adequate. However, the county will take some additional steps to make sure dog park users comply with rules. One measure is to install signs advising parents “to pay close attention to their children to ensure that they remain under direct supervision at all times.”
The county will continue to take feedback on how the beefed up rules and regulations are working.
It’s so hot today even dogs are doing their best to stay cool.
As of 2:00 p.m. the temperature has reached a scorching 98 degrees. With a heat advisory in effect, outdoor events are being canceled and residents are being urged to stay inside.
Just before lunch time we stopped by Shirlington to see how folks were coping with the heat and humidity. At the dog park, humans stayed in the shade, watching the dogs get some exercise before quickly tiring out and retreating to the water bowls.
On the path that runs along Four Mile Run, a pair of young kids in strollers had their own mini umbrellas to beat the heat. Meanwhile, in Shirlington Village, we could only find two souls brave enough to take advantage of the strip’s copious sidewalk seating.