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Letter to the Editor: Nothing Secret About Friends Group

To the Editor:

I do not normally respond to Jay Spiegel’s rants, but in this case I feel I need to reply to his charge in your May 9-15 issue that the Friends of Westgrove Park is a secret organization and not credible. We are not a secret organization. We are an informal group of citizens who support Westgrove Park as a protected natural area, a passive park that would maintain the wildlife corridor between Mt. Vernon District Park and Dyke Marsh. Most of our members are neighbors of Westgrove Park or representatives of environmental organizations.

Mr. Spiegel states we should exist as a Virginia corporation to be credible. To suggest that a citizen group needs to incorporate is ludicrous. We may annoy Mr. Spiegel, but speaking out and addressing our concerns to governing authorities are legitimate citizen activities.

We are not secret. On numerous occasions in the last two years I have provided the Park Authority and Supervisor Gerry Hyland’s office with lists of our supporters. Usually this is in the form of signatures on a petition. We are not a formal group with dues and memberships, but we are not secret. Any readers wanting to receive our occasional communications should send their name, address, and email address with “Friends of Westgrove Park –subscribe” in the subject line to me at mjdetweiler@cox.net.

Before closing, I must comment briefly on Mr. Spiegel’s efforts to measure the sound of dog barking with his decibel meter on a single Saturday for 30 minutes. The noise from dog barking varies a lot over the days and weeks and cannot be judged by a single visit. Mr. Spiegel thinks noise from the dog park could not possibly create a disturbance 200 yards away in River Towers. It may seem surprising, but in fact the sound flows down the hill and across the property line.

Not all River Towers residents have been bothered by the noise, but for others it is a serious quality of life issue. People with balconies, people who walk the grounds regularly, and gardeners working the soil are among those who report being disturbed. “A beautiful Saturday

morning ruined by barking” was one comment. “Lovely bird songs drowned out by snarling dogs” was another. Given this experience, we asked the Park Authority at the April 30 “open comments” meeting to protect the neighborhood from dog noise by sound barriers and/or no-barking regulations.

Mary Jo Detweiler

Friends of Westgrove Park