Dog parks: a compromise

I’ve written about dog parks several times, most recently last month, when
I was thinking about what I was going to do with two dogs of
significantly different activity levels, but most relevantly in 2006 when they
enclosed the Fort Washington Dog Park, and made it less
embarrassing to go there with a dog who completely ignored his
owner to run out on the railway tracks to steal food from the
homeless people.

After that, the park became much more popular with dog owners,
and so there stopped being any grass to speak of in the summer.
The embankments which were allegedly built by George Washington
during the American Revolution started getting smaller. Some
people blamed this on the dogs digging them up, but I think it was
erosion. I suspect a lot of erosion has happened since the
eighteenth century, and very little of the dirt that’s in those
embankments is the same dirt that Washington’s soldiers
shoveled.

In any case, if I were running parks, I would say, “Good, lots
of people are using this dog park, and we should deal with the
problems they create, and maybe make some more dog parks.”

The Cambridge Department of Public Works did essentially say
this, and they set up a smaller park a couple of blocks away, and
also made plans for a sprinkler system for Fort Washington.

In conjunction with installing the sprinkler system, they had
some archaeologists come do some excavations, so the park was
closed for over a year, and has only reopened this month.

There’s a person who claims to be patriotic, and in fact
dislikes dogs, and he started lobbying for not allowing the dogs
back in the park. The dog owners lobbied back.

The solution the city came up with was to remove the extra fencing that completely
enclosed Fort Washington, which both increased the number of dogs
at the park and also didn’t look anything like an eighteenth
century fence. (Not that there was a fence there before the
twentieth century.)

So now there are two dog parks; one for people whose dogs can
be trusted not to run outside the park (Sunny’s in that class
now), and a smaller, less nice one for dogs who can’t. It’s too
soon to tell whether this is going to mollify anyone, but at least
Sunny and I have our park back.

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