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Letter: Prepare for Park Meeting

To the Editor:

The Westgrove Park Off-Leash Dog Area (OLDA) has been the subject of numerous articles and letters in the Gazette over the past two years. Last November, the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) agreed to establish the OLDA on an interim basis pending the outcome of the Master Planning process. This decision was appropriate under the circumstances and the interim OLDA has become a smashing success. On any typical day, dozens of Mount Vernon residents avail themselves of this new community amenity and users have been responsible stewards of the environment, policing the OLDA, cleaning up after their dogs and respecting park rules.

Since the OLDA commenced operation, I'm unaware of any evidence that operation of the OLDA has resulted in any adverse environmental impacts. This is not surprising since the experts believe OLDAs are "best management practices." The handful of naysayers have been publicly silent over the past several months although next Tuesday they'll have one more opportunity to express their opposition. On that evening, April 30, at 7 p.m. at Belle View Elementary School, the FCPA has noticed a public meeting where interested parties can provide comments concerning the proposed Master Plan for Westgrove Park. As proposed, the Master Plan includes the OLDA on a permanent basis. This is a triumph for good sense and responsiveness to the taxpayers. We worked hard to establish the OLDA and making it permanent is now likely.

I encourage all supporters to attend the meeting and provide your positive comments. To that handful of opponents, feel free to speak for yourselves, but if you are going to claim you speak for organizations or groups, be prepared to provide documentation that those entities (1) actually exist, and (2) have provided you written authorization to speak on their behalf specifically with regard to the OLDA.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon