Hooray! The fence is coming! The fence is coming! I have been working on this with some really committed dog owners who have shared their stories about the need for fence at Lauderdale Off-Leash Park or Onion Park, located on 127 Avenue between 109 and 113A Streets.
They expressed concern for dogs that have run across the busy 127 Avenue and nearby roads. They shared stories of seeing dogs hit or near misses. They gathered support and signatures, spoke at Council committee meetings, and they have been heard. These active citizens started the ball rolling on a lot of fronts.
What seemed like a simple idea to them initiated the City thinking about fencing some or all of our dog parks. It started dialogue with the greater community to find out what they thought about possible fencing, and if we fenced it then what should it look like. Should there be just a fence or also trees and shrubs? Many community members expressed concerns about fencing the dog park and what it would look like. They were worried about the impact on their homes and the feel of the neighborhood.
While it seemed like a long time to those who wanted the park to be fenced, it was very important that the whole community had their say. There were two online surveys and two public information sessions, which were well attended by community members and dog owners. Everyone got to weigh in and express their thoughts on the ideas and the proposed options.
All this input resulted in the Lauderdale Off-Leash Pilot Project, which focuses on safety for large and small dogs. It will include a fully fenced off-leash area with a separate fenced area for small dogs, new trees, shrubs, kiosks, and signs. Construction will start this fall and should be completed by winter.
The City worked to create guidelines through the Dogs in Open Spaces Strategy so we can determine what the City’s needs are for dogs and off-leash parks and how to determine when we need what. The fencing of the Lauderdale Off-Leash Park will be a pilot project for the city so we can gather input before, after, and during construction of the fence.
The dog park will remain open during construction, however areas under construction will be fenced off and signage in place to advise users.
It makes me think of the quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”