Dog Waste and the Lake

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 No one, including dog lovers, wants to pollute Canandaigua Lake.

Our unpleasant and self-serving opponents are challenging the viability of a dog park near Sucker Brook, a tributary to the lake. Please bear in mind their concerns are not about the lake, but about the loss of the western portion of the park which is either unused or barely used. They consider it as a pleasant extension of their own backyards and they do not wish to share this land with the community.
I have, of course, researched this issue (both before it occurred to the park opponents to lob the environmental grenade and afterwards when they accidentally stumbled onto a potential, rational reason not to build).
In general terms, the best way to avoid dog waste run-off in waterways is simply to scoop it up. The membership dog park model provides an excellent avenue for diligent waste pick-up:
·         We will know who is using the park
·         We can educate users when they register their dogs
·         We can remind them with posted signs
·         Our volunteers and supporters can keep an eye out and be vocal on-site advocates
·         We can communicate directly with users (phone, e-mail, address)  if waste pick-up becomes an issue
·         We can even “cap” use of the  dog park while we monitor the environmental piece
I don’t believe we will have a problem with waste removal. A dog park may even curtail the random “droppings” around Baker Park by providing a designated location for exercise and (by default) elimination.
What remains a question mark is the waste residue left on soil or grass and the pattern of runoff to the brook. How impactful that will be cannot be calculated but a way to avoid that issue is to grade the land so the flow is AWAY rather than TOWARD the brook. Hard packed surfaces also contribute to runoff (which is why man-made surfaces such as sidewalks and roads are significant non-point sources of water pollution). Lifted directly from the Canandaigua LakeWatershed Management Plan JULY 2014: “Rain falling on a natural landscape will seep into the ground and will generate very little runoff. However, when natural landscapes are converted into development, the rain falls on impervious surfaces, such as roads, roofs, driveways, parking areas, and compacted manicured lawns. Instead  of infiltrating into the ground, the rainfall accumulates on these hardened surfaces and becomes stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff picks up these human signatures deposited on our landscape and transports them via pollution highways such as road ditches, culverts, storm drains and streams ultimately to Canandaigua Lake.”
Our thought to initially keep the grass as the dog park surface turns out to be a good idea. If the grass ultimately struggles with paw traffic and we had to add fill of some sort, we would make sure to use a permeable, environmentally friendly product.
Interestingly, I think you could build a case for or against a dog park at Baker Park using the same environmental research. Certainly if there were an accessible, cost effective alternative location that would not be near a natural water source, it would make sense to consider that more strongly. Our group looked at all the available city land (at least that was presented to us to consider) and we did not uncover any viable options other than Baker Park.
While we opted not to participate in additional VA talks because of its exorbitant costs, I visited the Civic Center as that had “come up” as a potential alternative with parking available. As some of you may have already discovered, the plot of land is town-owned and also is adjacent to Sucker Brook (with the same run-off issues). However, if the land could be graded  away from the brook and the town wanted to partner on the build, it could help with sharing costs of the grade (TBD) and the higher costs to fence the area. Baker Park requires three sides of fencing, the Civic Center plot would need four sides. And there are no shade trees at all. But on the bright side, no neighbors!
Please let me know if you have any thoughts.

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