Dear City Council,
My name is Eric Saul and I am the architect of the proposed Dog Park in Takoma Park. I’ve been involved with Joe Edgell and Takoma Dogs for almost 2 years now. I’ve spent over 100 hours of pro-bono time working with Joe, The City Manger and staff, and various civil engineers to create a much needed space for residents of Takoma Park. I’ve even walked in the 4th of July parade with many dog-owners and volunteers.
The main reason I got involved with Takoma Dogs is because I’m also a dog owner. (I have a pug named Dude). Walking through our neighborhood, as well as other neighborhoods around Sligo Creek and Long Branch, we’ve met several other dog owners who have become our long term friends, and even clients.
I started my own full-time practice in the midst of the economic downturn in 2009 when the company I worked for laid off half of the staff and furloughed the rest of us to about 60% salaries. I met my very first Takoma Park client soon after just from walking Dude around the neighborhood and meeting new people. That one project blossomed, turning into multiple referrals and soon became a full-time, self sustaining business here in Takoma Park. And to think, it all started with a simple walk in the park with a dog who was very interested in sniffing the rear end of another dog.
This story isn’t meant to suggest that this dog park will economically revitalize Takoma Park, but I hope it shows some of the many good things that a dog park can do. A safe and functional space for local dog owners and their pets will introduce people to new friends or new business opportunities and strengthen bonds in the community, not to mention provide an attractive local amenity that will add further value to property in the city. Being involved in the local dog community changed my life and supporting that community is an important issue for me, personally. I certainly can’t pay Dude a huge bonus or give him shares in my company for helping me grow my business, but what I can do is donate my time to give back to the community that gave to me.
The dog community is all in for this park. I’ve been proudly updating my fellow dog-walkers about the status for quite some time now and helping them get their hands on our nifty t-shirts. The excitement is real. Takoma needs this park.
So, tonight I urge the city council to begin construction of this dog park sooner rather than later. I invested my time and efforts, as has Joe and the rest of the volunteers with Takoma Dogs, so I believe it’s time for the city to follow through on their promises. And as always, we’re all here to continue helping those efforts in any way we can. Thank you.