Loose Lips

What Kind of Dog Should Fenty Get?

Anti-dog-park stalwarts. (Lydia DePillis)

Anti-dog-park stalwarts. (Lydia DePillis)

In what could be his last ribbon cutting–erm, "leash cutting"–before becoming a lame duck, this morning Mayor Adrian Fenty officially opened the way-more-controversial-than-it-oughtta-be Newark Street Dog Park off Wisconsin Avenue. The 10,000-square-foot, $400,000 canine playground had been a decade in the planning stages, as gardeners and surrounding condo owners fought the conversion of a grassy meadow into gravel.

Near the conclusion of a race that has been marked by grumbling that the Mayor has prioritized fripperies in wealthy neighborhoods over more pressing needs elsewhere, Fenty assured the dog owners that he was one of them (video here).

"Dog parks are fantastic," Fenty said, over the howls of restless pooches. "First of all, they don't cost much money, in comparison to anything else that we build in the District of Columbia government. And they really are well appreciated. Full disclosure, I do not own a dog right now. But that's gonna change."

The political awkwardness went even further. Flanked by current Department of Parks and Recreation director Jesus Aguirre, Fenty praised the DPR director he'd fired, at-large council candidate Clark Ray, for his work pushing the dog park forward (which helped land Clark the Madeline Albright seal of approval). But there was no mention of endangered at-large councilmember Phil Mendelson, who had also fought for the dog park during the last round of budget negotiations. Meanwhile, the Mayor also had kind words for Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, a few days after she made her long-obvious support for his opponent official.

And behind the approving crowd, a few diehard opponents made their presence known. Gardener and Cathedral Heights resident Peggie Lewis, who testified before the city council against the park in 2004, says dog poo will stink up the neighborhood and run off into the children's playground down the slope.

"We're not opposed to dog parks–in the right place," she said, noting that the city had previously put the cost at $600,000.

"It's really a misuse of city land," added Jake Lewis.

"Would you like to own a condo across the street from all these yapping dogs?" asked another protestant. "They took away the only piece of open land in the neighborhood. Dog owners are really a minority. They're loud, but they're a minority."

  • Sally

    The "only piece of open land in the neighborhood"? Um, there's more open land down the street at 39th and Porter, further down the street at 39th and Rodman, and the opposite direction at Macomb and Massachusetts.

    A handful of ancient whiners bitching about the use of public space being used by anyone who wants to. Unlike their essentially privatization of public space for their own personal gardens.

  • Concerned Resident

    Not true Sally

    dogs using this dog park must be members of the k-9 friends dog group.
    to be a member of the garden you just have to be a dc resident

  • NWneighbor

    Sally...public space should be open to everyone to use...that's what "public" means. The "open land" you refer to at Porter and Rodman streets is in McLean Gardens, not "public" space. And the dog poop-filled grassy area at Macomb and Mass is not exactly a park. but at least the area's school kids can still play there...if they tiptoe thru the dog crap, like all of us have to do in the neighborhood.

  • blue penn

    And CP has not learned. No indication of any progress in this article. Just more of the same.

    At least address the discrepancy of 400K in your article and the 600K on the signs.

  • Isn’t It Obvious

    "Full disclosure, I do not own a dog right now. But that’s gonna change.” King Fenty is gonna need a dog after Tuesday, because the dog is going to be the only friend he has in this city.

  • Carl Roller

    "Concerned Resident": You're incorrect. Anyone can use the dog park provided the dog has a DC dog park tag. You do not have to be a member of the K-9 Friends. By being a member, however, you help support the ongoing maintenance of the park.

  • Sally

    @Concerned Resident: You need to get some facts. The dog park is open to ANYONE. It's a public park, managed by the DC Dept of Parks and Rec. The community gardens, on the other hand, is essentially closed to the public since there's not even a waiting list anymore b/c plots don't turn over.

    @NWNeighbor: You also need to get some facts straight. The parks I referred to are all federal plots, which means they are public space. And the "dog poop" filled area on Mass is not dog poop; it's deer poop. That's not to say they're aren't some idiot dog owners who don;t pick up after their dogs. But the vast majority are quite responsible.

  • blue penn

    Sally is correct that the community gardens need to do a lot more to increase transparency. But there is still the issue that to some extent it must be a closed place, otherwise what is the point of trying to grow stuff that people are just going to take? That's the reality of living in a city and having a comm garden. It does NOT mean it should not be done. It should. And CGs should be expanded across the city. They should actually be on roof tops too, but that's another story for another day. But we need and love CGs.

  • Becca

    Thanks, Sally and Carl for setting the facts straight. Seems to me many people in our neck of the woods need to check their priorities... and perhaps get a hobby.

  • Truth Hurts

    The mayor should conduct polls, convene study groups,hold hearings, meet with lobbyists, deliberate for several years and then get an inclusive, holistic and respectful dog.

  • NWdog owner

    Two points: McLean Gardens area has a VERY LARGE dog community, we are definitely NOT the minority....and secondly, for all the whining and complaining the gardeners have done, the ironic thing is that now the ugliest part of that corner of the city is the cheap, pathetic fence the gardeners put up to silently continue their protest. I hope my dog chooses to mark that fence, I won't stop her!

  • noodlez

    YOU POMPOUS FUCKS NO ONE IS REALLY QUESTIONING DOG PARKS PER SE BUT THE COST AND QUESTIONABLE POLITICS BEHIND IT AT A TIME WHEN SPENDING HAS GOTTEN OUTTA CONTROL UNDER THIS CLOWN OF A MAYOR!

    TYPICAL FAKE RICH LAZY ASS CRACKERS INSTEAD OF GETTING BEHIND THE NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN AND PROMOTE HEALTHY EATING AND LIFESTYLE YOU WANT TO GET BEHIND AN EXPENSIVE UNECCESARY PROJECT THAT TAKES AWAY FROM ALL THE NATURAL DOG INSTINCTS AND WAY OF LIFE BY ARTIFICIALLY INTRODUCING THE ANIMAL TO CONTROLLED SHITS AND PISSES.

    DOGS ARE NOT PEOPLE! ENOUGH ALL READY.

    SO BASK IN ALL YOUR DOG SHIT GLORY BECAUSE THE RIDE IS OVA COME TUESDAY!!

  • Ward3voter

    NWdog owner - The city put up that fence not the garden association.

  • longtime Ward3 resident

    NW Dog owner: Shame on you. The members of the garden are our family, friends and neighbors. Most of us long time residents enjoy walking through the gardens and enjoying a quiet peaceful time. And in your self centered way you believe it ok to allow your dog to mark the fence and eliminate on a neighbors garden. Disgusting attitude.

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  • Korrupt

    Does it come with astro-turf, too?

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  • http://ABF ABF

    WHAT KIND OF DOG SHOULD FENTY GET....HOW BOUT A LOSER!

  • Ward3voter2

    to NW dog owner...it's attitudes like yours that have created much of the dissention between the dog owners, and the dog park, and the rest of the neighborhood around the Newark Street Park, and not only the garden. It's people like you, who have no respect for anyone else, that cause problems. You seem to forget that dog park is for all of Ward 3, not only McLean Gardens, which has become a neighborhood doggie toilet that keeps spreading.

  • Anna

    CP and all, stop throwing around numbers. FOIA the documents and find out the real price, and then you'll see just what sort of "fees" pushed the cost so high. Heck, I'd share this with you now but I need to keep my job.

  • McGarden Truth

    I don't have a dog in this fight, but I have noticed that the 10,000 square foot hilltop dog park seems noticeably larger than the downhill children's playground. And while the children's playground got a little fence as part of the dog park project, it still has the same tired old playground equipment as before.

    It seems a case of misplaced priorities to spend so much money on building a larger dog park when more could have been done for our little humans. Of course, given the dog park's hilltop location, perhaps this is just a case of "trickle down" economics.

  • TrudiePie

    "McLean Gardens area has a VERY LARGE dog community, we are definitely NOT the minority."

    If that's the case, wouldn't the fair and equitable choice have been to construct the park in the middle of McLean Gardens, say near the pool or the ballroom? It would have been more convenient and centrally located for the VERY LARGE majority dog community (Wow -- do the dogs really outnumber the human residents?!) and would not have impacted the community garden and children's play areas.

  • Skipper

    Good lord people! The public dog park is built and done. It has a non-profit group that's raised money to maintain it. Get over it and quit all the bitching and whining.

    And if you want the kiddie park to look nicer, than work with DPR to make it so, rather than bitching about how dog owners are better organized. And put your money where you whine is, create a non-profit, and donate your time and money to improving the kids park.

    There's plenty of land in that corner of McLean Gardens to go around for gardeners, kiddies, tennis players, dog owners, and wildlife.

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    Sometimes, i ask myself what kind of dog should i get .. but i need Shepherd, and want to get only this kind of dog.

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