With around 45 Vienna residents in attendance, the Town Council unanimously voted on Monday to build an off-leash dog park at Moorefield Park, a small, undeveloped area adjacent to Nottoway Park along Courthouse Road. The dog park should be completed by mid-summer.
Before they voted, though, the Town Council heard comments from Vienna residents. And some concessions were made to satisfy concerned residents. In response to resident comments, the town agreed to screen the park with evergreen trees and to eliminate commuter parking from the 10-space parking lot.
James Granfield said he lives on Moorefield Road, and that his property backs up to the plot of land, in the northeastern corner of the park, where the dog area will be located. In a statement he left with the council, he stated he was against the dog area but, if the council decided to go forward with the park, he would like it to be separated from his yard by a six-foot solid fence and “attractive plantings.”
“If we did screenings my preference would be for evergreens,” said council member Michael Polychrones. “That would be preferable to eight-foot stockade fences.”
Steve Fogel who lives on Apple Blossom Court, facing the park from the other side of Courthouse Road, was concerned about parking for the dog park.
“There’s a commuter lot there, and we currently have no overflow,” Fogel said. “But if you allow 18 dogs, and if the owners all drive, where are they all going to park? On Apple Blossom Court.”
But council members said the lot at Moorefield Park is not meant for commuters, and town staff intend to put up either two-hour parking signs or signs that limit parking to park-users only.
“We can stop that tonight,” said council member Steven Briglia, referring to the commuters who park at Moorefield during the day.
AND ALTHOUGH MANY residents at Monday’s meeting spoke out against the dog park, around the same number of people spoke in favor of the dog area. Marny Hahn, from Fairfax, currently uses a dog park in Oakton, on Blake Lane, but she said there is a need for another park nearby.
“Blake Lane is very crowded,” Hahn said. “That 20 to 25 dog limit makes it necessary for another park.”
But Granfield said the proposed park seems too close to the Blake Lane park.
“Considering there is a park at Blake Lane two miles away, we do not think the park is needed,” Granfield said.
The Blake Lane dog park is 125 feet by 130 feet, while the proposed Vienna dog park is 150 feet by 90 feet with an 18-dog limit.
Granfield also asked that the dog area be relocated to another section of Moorefield Park, so it was not adjacent to his property. But town officials said the dog park is planned for the northeastern corner of the park because construction in that area would mean minimal destruction of natural areas.
“I can’t imagine the folks along Moorefield Road wouldn’t be affected,” said nearby resident Bruce Olson. “You can see into people’s backyards. The dog park would become part of your life. It would seem rude to put it right in their backyards.”
Vienna Mayor Jane Seeman said there will be a wooded buffer of at least 60 feet between the dog park and the closest private properties.
Joan Sodden lives adjacent the Oakton park and she said in the two years the park has been open, there have only been three complaints for barking. And, she said, there have been no complaints in 2002.
“Fairfax County has opened two new parks since Blake Lane and it has really alleviated the stress put on our park,” Sodden said.
ALONG WITH NOISE concerns, neighbors of the park also asked about pedestrian safety and tree damage at the park. Kathy Salgado, director of the Vienna Parks and Recreation Department, said the park rules would be posted at the park and that users would be responsible for policing the area. Aggressive dogs will not be allowed at the park, dog owners will be responsible for picking up dog waste and the park will be open from dawn to dusk.
Salgado said she is working on developing a “family” of regular users who would be especially vigilant in the enforcement of park rules.
“I’ve visited this place and I’ve visited others that have been suggested,” said council member Albert Boudreau. “I think, at this time, this is the best option. I think we should put it in and if, after a year, it isn’t working out we can take it out. It isn’t a great cost.”
The town has budgeted $10,000 for the park, and Fairfax County has agreed to match the first $5,000 that Vienna spends on the park.
For more information on the park, call the Vienna Parks and Recreation Department at 703-255-6360.