Posted by: twodogtales | May 27, 2011

Arlington County will consider community input in dog park decision

Arlington County is now saying they will give the community a chance to comment on their proposal to ban children from the Community Canine Areas (CCAs), after their plan attracted local media attention following my Two Dog Tales post on May 18.

The news initially caught the attention of the Shirlington Village Blog and ARLnow.com, then WUSA Channel 9, which ran a story on May 19.

When the news of the ban was announced at the Shirlington CCA meeting on May 18, Shirlington Dogs sponsoring group head Keith Fred said that Arlington County had not, and did not intend to, solicit public opinion before enacting the new rule.

It appears that all the media coverage has caused county officials to reconsider that position, however.

According to a May 21 Washingtonexaminer.com story, Caroline Temmermand, division chief of the Arlington County Parks and Natural Resources Division, said that the public will be given an opportunity to comment on any rule governing children at the dog parks before it is finalized.

The story stayed in the media spotlight all week. NBC Washington 4 ran a story on May 22, followed on May 23 by a report on Fox 5 News and a story on WJLA Channel 7 that featured an interview with Fred.

While a majority of early public sentiment opposed the ban, as the issue remains in the news, there appears to be no clear consensus. In ARLnow.com’s May 24 Morning Poll on the issue, 34 percent support a ban, 28 percent favor no ban, and 38 percent say a ban is not appropriate, but additional restrictions would be a good idea.

Whatever happens, the good news is that Arlington County has recognized that they need to consider the views of the taxpayers who use the dog parks before they enact a rule that could keep many visitors from enjoying play time with their kids and dogs together in the future.

Community input can still be shared with Arlington County through their website Contact Us form or at 703-228-6523 or 6525. No timeline has been established for the county to make a final decision.

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