Vienna’s Charlie Gilbert said it is not always easy for him to walk his dogs in town.
He recalled an incident when his wife was walking on Ayer Hill Avenue at 8:30 in the evening. She moved over to avoid an oncoming car and fell into a ditch, breaking a leg and an ankle. Gilbert owns two dogs, Joey and Gypsy, and he said he often finds himself walking on streets instead of on sidewalks.
So around a year ago Gilbert approached Vincent Olson, a member of the Vienna Town Council, and suggested that Vienna build an off-leash dog park in town.
"Dog parks have begun to be established throughout the county," Olson said. "I have had several dog owners who asked me about it."
Now $10,000 has been set aside along with a plot of land in Moorefield Park. At the April 1 meeting of the Vienna Town Council there will be a public hearing so the town council can gauge the level of support for a dog park. That meeting will be at 8 p.m at the Town Hall.
"The reception of the rest of the council has been pretty affirmative," Olson said, noting the $10,000 that has been set aside for the project. Fairfax County has also agreed to match up to $5,000 toward the dog park.
"So that’s all we might need," Olson said. "The first $10,000 will be covered by $5,000 from us and $5,000 matching from the county."
Moorefield Park is located on Courthouse Road, S.W., just off Nutley Street and adjacent to Nottoway Park. The dog park is proposed to be 13,500 square feet (90x150 feet) enclosed by a chain link fence five feet high. The site would include benches, waste bag dispensers, waste receptacles and a source of water for the dogs. Town staff will bring a sketch of the proposed park to the April 1 meeting. Dog parks provide an area where dogs can run, without leashes, among other dogs. Gilbert, who has visited a dog park along Blake Lane in Oakton, said fights between dogs are rare.
"Dogs socialize well," Gilbert said. "Most owners know the temperament of their dog. They know if their dog is aggressive and if they shouldn’t bring their dog to a dog park."
Even so, Gilbert said it is important that park rules are enforced.
"It has to be really heavily regulated," Gilbert said. When you are in the park you need to pick up dog waste. And people can’t bring aggressive dogs."
Other rules proposed for the Moorefield dog park include a 16-year age requirement for dog handlers, a maximum of two dogs per handler, and a requirement that handlers must fill any holes their dogs dig. Town staff have recommended that the park stay open daily from 7 a.m. until dark.
To build the park, the town will first need to clear some brush and small trees in the northeast corner of Moorefield Park.
"We had thought about a piece of property off Beulah Road, but there were a lot of trees there," Olson said. "Moorefield is a better location. There is parking for eight or nine cars out front."
Anyone with questions or comments prior to the public hearing can call the Vienna Parks and Recreation Department at 703-255-6360 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Vienna Town Hall is located at 127 Center Street S.