SCA Dog Park Resolution Passes Unanimously

On its well-attended February 22 Membership meeting, the Association heard a presentation by Mr. Keith Fred, head of the Shirlington Dogs II volunteer sponsor group. This presentation, with slides, was taped and will be shared shortly. The Association then considered and passed the following motion:
Shirlington Civic Association RESOLUTION

For the reasons discussed below, be it resolved that the Shirlington Civic Association (SCA):

  • Respectfully requests to Arlington County Staff and the 4MRV Working Group that the Shirlington Dog Park be maintained and improved in its current location; and
  • Designates two SCA members to the Board of the Shirlington Canine Recreation Area; and
  • Commits our community to be responsible, educated, and active stewards of the environmental well-being of this area of Four Mile Run.

First Location of the Shirlington Dog Park

The Shirlington Civic Association (SCA) welcomes the opportunity to renew and improve the industrial, park, and recreation areas offered by a County-mandated long-range, comprehensive planning exercise led by the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group launched in 2016. We participate actively in that body.

The purpose of this resolution is to provide input on the Shirlington Community Canine Area (SCCA or Dog Park). This is not simply a park “for dogs” and thus a ‘diversion’ of county resources as some seem to think; it is a hugely successful park for Arlingtonians with their dogs. Tens of thousands of County residents come to walk along the stream, to enjoy the scenery, to share our love of dogs. People also come to enjoy a vibrant, diverse community where long-lasting friendships are formed, and people of every age, income group, and heritage find companionship.

In February, the Shirlington community is aware of initial master plan proposals presented in two successive 4MRV Working Group meetings. Several of these would relocate the dog park, reduce its size, and place it within Jennie Dean Park near the playground, picnic areas, and ball fields.

The Shirlington community would like to record that the Dog Park in its present form and location provides an asset with unique attributes for local and County-wide residents and is vital to our local economy.

These attributes include:

  • The quarter-mile length offers a long pathway with shade and trees along the stream where people stroll and dogs play hard, even in hot weather;
  • The current shape and landscape of the park is interesting and relaxing to both human and canine visitors, unlike some recently-installed dog parks;
  • Its location is close to residents, including the amenities of the Village at Shirlington, but positioned well away from residences and businesses.
  • The current location between warehouses and the stream opposite the Trades Center also buffers the inevitable noise of barking dogs in a manner that would not be possible in other proposed locations.
  • It is fully handicapped accessible, including parking and pathway.
  • The physical separation between a multitude of large and small dogs to the west and the children, ballplayers, families, and picnickers with food in play areas of Jennie Dean to the east provides protection for both dogs and people.

Secondly, Improving Dog Park Governance through Civic Association Representation

Arlington County requires that each dog park have active volunteer participation, the only kind of park with this requirement. To contribute to this governance and maintenance effort, the SCA has, for the first time, designated two representatives from our civic association to the Board of the Shirlington Dogs II. These representatives will report to the Association as needed and help us provide more support and effective two-way communications. We hope other nearby civic associations will do the same.

Thirdly, Responsible Environmental Stewardship

Our community is well aware that the Dog Park and Jennie Dean Park are located in a Resource Protection Area, one that has, in our view, been neglected for many years. We hope that the 4MRV planning effort will result in substantial improvements in the overall environmental health of the valley.

Indeed, it should be noted that the dog park has already contributed substantially to this. Until volunteers created it out of a dumpsite, chemical and trash dumping along this section of the stream was common in the 4MRV industrial area. At present, the County’s monitoring reveals that bacterial levels are higher above the SCCA than below it and that the pollutants are primarily man-made discharges and spills as well as pollutants carried to the stream bypassing across impervious surfaces from all over the County.

This is why we would like to turn the discussion about the dog park from relocation inside Jennie Dean to how it can be improved and protected in its present site over the short- and long term. We would like to develop a set of practical, affordable actions that can be taken, beginning as soon as practicable. This would include increased stormwater management and erosion control, protection of mature trees, and stream bank stabilization. We do not want to see the perfect suddenly become the enemy of the good in this effort, leading to closing the dog park along the stream when the County is not in a position to offer a comparable area.

We commit ourselves as dog park users, volunteers, and area residents to be informed about this area’s environmental needs. We will continue our current efforts to clean up trash and dog waste. To the best of our ability, we will engage with the County on public education and outreach. We will participate in volunteer efforts as stewards of the stream that adds so much to the enjoyment of all who use this dog park and Jennie Dean Park. ##

Approved by Members on February 22, 2017