Dear Takoma Park,
We're very happy to report that City Council advanced to the next phase of dog park development by allocating a budget. Now the City moves to site selection.
TakomaDogs, as a community-based organization of dog supporters, previously submitted over 1100 signatures supporting the dog park and has since increased the signature support on its electronic petition. We see a dog park as a fantastic community resources for all Takoma Park residents much like a playground is available for all.
While not everyone has a dog, many communities outside Takoma Park find that playgrounds and dog parks are amenities they desire in order to make their community inclusive and attractive for all. Not everyone is able to have children, so many couples choose a dog instead. We want this to be a welcoming place for families with children, families with dogs, and families with both!
According to a recent article, women are having less children (down by 10% since 2007). Meanwhile, dog ownership continues to skyrocket. According to the U.S. Humane Society, as of 2012 there were 83.3 million dogs nationwide. Based upon numbers TakomaDogs researched for our initial Council presentation, there are over 4,250 dogs in Takoma Park. To put that in perspective, according to the U.S. Census, there are about 10% more dogs in Takoma Park than children, yet there are no parks for humans with dogs, only parks for humans with children.
Dog owners, like parents of children, are all taxpayers in this City. And we pay a lot of them. For someone in the position of not having children and placing a minimum of a financial burden on the City's services, it seems reasonable to expect something for those taxes. Pet owners deserve to receive services from their City, just as parents expect similar, high-quality services for their taxes.
Playgrounds are specialized. They are free. The skatepark is specialized. It is free. The basketball courts are specialized. They are free. A dog park is no different than a skatepark, basketball court, or playground. We want the dog park to be available for all Takoma Park residents, not just the rich ones who can afford fees. All socioeconomic classes in Takoma Park should benefit from the dog park.
TakomaDogs identified over a dozen potential sites in the City. Of those potential sites, we identified four top candidate sites. The current leading candidate, Heffner Park, is 100% owned by the City, eliminating challenges of ownership by others. What most people do not realize is that Heffner Park extends across the ravine. A Heffner Park dog park would not be located anywhere near the Heffner Community Center; rather, it would be located across the ravine in a nice wooded area not currently used for any purpose. All of the large trees would be preserved, and we would work carefully with the City's arborist and Public Works Department to ensure protection of the natural environment.
TakomaDogs has donated so far over $2500 in architectural services to create the dog park, and dozens of hours in volunteer time to clear brush from the Heffner Park site. We also proposed advertising in the dog park as a way off-setting dog park construction and maintenance costs, minimizing the burden on taxpayers.
Thank you Takoma Park for your continued support of this important community asset!
info @ takomadogs.org