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Nealon Dog Park

From: domainremoved <Annley>
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 20:59:24 -0800

I am a mother and a dog owner but most importantly a resident of Menlo
Park. "Park" is in our city name, so it seems only likely that the
discussion of changing our parks become an important undertaking. One that
should be thought of with great due diligence. Especially when the decision
is to take away park open space from many in order to repurpose it for few.

I attended this evening's open house discussion and thought about a
question that was proposed as to "who is behind" this change. After looking
at the materials presented and some of the responses I got from city
employees, I see that the driving force is you, our city, wanting or
needing to renovate the baseball field as the driving force behind this
move of the dog park. One employee stated it doesn't irrigate right and
needs to be fixed. Plus the materials state the irrigation equipment will
be removed, not replaced. Then a city employee stated if the baseball field
were to become turf, the artificial turf wouldn't support the dogs staying
on the field. So it seems the main priority is redoing the field and it
appears this renovation will not support the dogs staying. This was also
clear by the lack of attendance by the dog owner group tonight. You have
proposed a "sweet deal" for them, so they are not concerned. Moving it to
our only open space is a simple solution to the current problem. It will
create a bigger set of problems over time. In order to come up with a smart
solution we need to find a new location.

I see the pros and cons on both sides of this relocation argument. As a
neighbor to this piece of park in question, I also see how exactly this
piece of open space is used on a daily basis. Something no survey can tell
you. I can see the great sadness that will come should it become a fenced
in piece of land. Don't we have enough fences? There will no longer be any
useable open space at Nealon. There will no longer be joyful birthday
parties. The flat grass space (one of the only I should note in the nearby
parks) is often used as the place to picnic with the birthday boy or girl
to sing and eat cake or bounce gleefully in a bounce house. The picnics of
families that meet regularly in the warm months for dinners together will
have to be canceled. I have personally known many children (including my
own) learn to ride their bike in this place with the grass cushioning their
fall. I guess if this place were lost my youngest son will need to
experience the harsh reality of living in an urban world and crash on
asphalt while pedaling. You might think during the week the park isn't used
much in the morning, but there are moms who use it as a place to work out
together. Then there are the many people who use this park as a peaceful
place to read a book, play with their children, catch up with friends.
People will stop coming here if this small open space is fenced in. I'll no
longer see friends as I walk by and have impromptu playdates. We have had
impromptu neighborhood wide kickball games in this place. I've seen
families come together year after year for annual events. Nanny groups have
formed strong friendship bonds for the children they care for in this park.
The open space allows Nealon to be the only park where older siblings can
play a pickup game of some sort (football, soccer, tag, fly kites, etc.)
while younger siblings are enjoying the playground and the parents can
watch both sets from one vantage point.

The path around this open space is just as precious, becoming an imaginary
race course for a three year old on a tricycle or used lap after lap for
women walking out the last couple days of their pregnancy hoping the baby
will come. I've seen almost daily other mothers teaching toddlers to walk
or the elderly taking a peaceful stroll sometimes with the support of
another person. Children gleefully run between the "big playground" and the
"small playground" along this path. I don't think they'll be able to use
the path for these activities once the area is fenced in for dogs. It will
become too scary for little kids to be around the dogs and unsafe for those
where being knocked into by a big dog could cause a catastrophic fall. The
traffic on the path will become full of people coming and going with one
purpose - to let their dogs run. That's not the type of park environment
anyone wants to live in. All the paths at Nealon will be just that - paths
to lead you to the next fenced in organized activity. We will no longer
have open space.

As a dog owner I know the importance of the need to exercise your dog. I've
used the Nealon designated dog park and have also driven to the Willow dog
park. Owning a dog in an urban community comes with responsibilities and I
made that decision knowing that. Dog parks are important, but open space is
much more precious.

You might argue that the relocation is actually for the benefit of the
children. So that when they play in the baseball field they don't step in
dog poop. I personally see the hours my children play freely in the open
space, sometimes sports, sometimes imaginary play, sometimes in a large
game of simple tag...all of which is creative and imaginary play - THIS is
much more important than the one hour in a given weekend that my son is
running around for an organized sport. And if it's really an argument about
poop, let's be honest. People need to pick up after their dogs - are we
saying that because people can't pick up after themselves we should reward
them by giving them a dedicated place to leave their waste. And if we argue
they won't, then we are right back to the start of why again can't a dog
park coexist in the same place where people play? What's the point of
wasting city money to move it? I know it's not ideal but it is far more
ideal than taking away so many opportunities that bring people together. It
is the one park within the urban area of the city that is peaceful. You can
be off the busy streets. You can have a conversation and not worry about a
child being hit by a car. It is also the only flat park which is why it is
so versatile to allow for so many activities by our residents. To fence it
in is to take all those away. Not to mention installing the amenities
listed for the new dog park would turn what is a beautiful natural space
into an industrial looking concrete jungle.

The majority of the people attending tonight are very concerned - not about
the relocation, but about the city taking away a crucial piece of open
space. If you must relocate it, please be smart about this and move it
somewhere other than that open space proposed. And if it comes down to a
choice of having a dog park at all or open space - I think you'd be
surprised that the open space takes precedence to the residents of Menlo
Park.

I look forward to seeing a revision of your current plan, as that was the
direction of the overwhelming majority of comments tonight. Thank you for
reaching out to the residents and letting us be heard. We are an educated
community that can think of some smart solutions if given the opportunity.

Thank you,
Annley Dempsey
Received on Tue Nov 10 2015 - 21:01:21 PST

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