Two Paws Forward, One Paw Back …

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Hello all,

As a follow-up to our dog park presentation to the City Council, I want to wrap up what my position is, on behalf of myself obviously, as well as the approximately 325 Friends of Canandaigua Canine Campus volunteers and supporters.
The only viable city-owned public land that can accommodate a dog park is in Baker Park. Unless someone donated land to the city in a non-residential area or if we could fold a dog park into the lakefront development or Lagoon Park, there aren’t any other options. The VA is not an option for many reasons, but topping the list is the expense to build: 3 to 4 times more than Baker Park. I, as a taxpayer and I, as a volunteer, do not support funneling city dollars or fundraising for a VA dog park.
It is Baker or bust. Either option is sure to disappoint or anger city residents. I do not envy the Council’s responsibility in making that decision. October 7th is the next time the dog park project will discussed by the Council and I am hopeful we will come to a resolution one way or the other.
Regretfully, though some Ward 4 residents have expended sincere efforts in informing neighbors about the Baker Park site, their statements and characterizations are false. Even though we have clearly stated that we are not a “private club,” these folks continue to hold onto this concept, even at the recent meeting.  Frankly, if someone asked me to sign a petition based on their objections, I would sign it, too! It is a convincing argument but it simply is not true. So, I “discount” many of those signatures because the project wasn’t properly presented.
At this recent meeting, a realtor who spoke about declining property values lives adjacent to the park. I do not accept her professional opinion–her position is not objective. I, too, spoke to realtors who could not conclude one way or the other, how this off leash area would impact property values. Please note that the Baker Park neighbor realtor said that other realtors agreed with her but were “afraid” to say so. Um, okay.
I have since heard from a supporter who moved from another state to Canandaigua who tells me she lived near a dog park which raised property values and fit into the community beautifully. More and more dog parks are being built in residential areas, which dovetails nicely with our city’s commitment to active transportation and making amenities accessible to all. I stand behind keeping the dog park as an accessible city amenity and a walkable location.
Any Internet search will reveal positive and negative feedback and articles about dog parks. You could build a case either way. It all depends on how the dog park is run. Our membership model ensures a way to track problems and communicate with users. You can also “cap” use if it gets too crowded or direct people away from peak times to stagger use. Our volunteers have reported a peaceful, enjoyable environment at dog parks they have visited which I have experienced as well. I would never expose my dog to a crowded, aggressive park. No responsible dog owner would!
The hours of operation are critical to adjoining neighbors. I would NOT suggest dawn to dusk. Depending on the season, dawn could arrive before 6AM and dusk at 9:30. I am sensitive to the four homes closest to the site. We should work out hours that are respectful of them. We can also have time periods where the park is closed for maintenance or periodic seasonal respites. Some of my supporters may not agree with me but my position is that a dog park available SOMETIMES is better than no dog park at all.
I also want to add that the characterization of dogs in general  at this recent meeting made me sad. My dog is very friendly and social. A dog “escaping” an off leash area is probably more concern for the dog than for a passerby. And of course this is unlikely anyway with a double gate system.
Thank you for your support, keep the faith and save the date for October 7th. A link to a recent newspaper article is below.
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