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American Society of Landscape Architects


August 2005 Issue

Leaders of the Pack
Designers and other professionals shepherd many dog park issues.

By Gary W. Cramer

Leaders of the Pack
Peg Skorpinski

Even in the most tranquil of park settings, land wars can break out between opposing factions with vastly different ideas of how to use available space. And when the four-legged friends of one of those factions are at the heart of the dispute, stepping into the middle of it benefits more from diplomacy than it does from throwing water on the combatants.

Peter Harnik, program director for the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence in Washington, D.C., characterizes “the skyrocketing support for creating places to let dogs run free” as “the hottest new city park issue to hit America.” But in some cases, Harnik notes, “the dog park issue has badly fragmented a 0city, while in others it has been resolved harmoniously, even adding potency to the park constituency.”

In Berkeley, California, where the Martha Scott Benedict Memorial Park has a strong claim to being the nation’s first dog park (dating to 1979), some issues have yet to play out one way or the other. Enough residents of the Ohlone neighborhood that is home to the park complained about dog- and people-generated noise that the city established bark-free “quiet hours” in late 2004. Although the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission does not bill this uneasy compromise between those on either side of the park fence as a “zero barking” policy, dogs (and their owners) who can’t keep their yaps shut could get the heave-ho.

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