Does the New Dog Park at 17th and S Streets, NW Stink? Literally.

IMG_2084, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

The new dog park at 17th and S Streets, NW has only been open for a few weeks but I’ve already received a number of emails about it. I’m told that, perhaps due to the rain, the park can be smelled from a block away. I walked by Sunday afternoon to ask some pedestrians and folks in the park what they thought. Every single person I spoke to said the park did not smell particularly bad, with or without the rain. One woman in the park told me she lived half a block away and has never had a problem with the odor. For me, I’d say it did smell a bit of wet dog. But as someone else told me at the park – “it probably smelled of wet dog because there are tons of wet dogs in the park”. However the funniest comment came from someone who said, it doesn’t smell like wet dog, rather “it smells of dog shit near the entrances where the trash cans are filled with dog shit”. Ah, very good point. Indeed the entrance did have an overpowering smell of dog shit. But the question remains – can you smell the park from a block away? For those that live nearby – is the smell overwhelming? Do you think it has anything to do with the rain and/or artificial surface?

43 Comment

  • I biked by Friday afternoon (after some rain), and it did indeed stink like wet dog. At the time, only 1 wet dog at play, so I don’t think we can blame him or her. I was in the far left lane on 17th Street, and could smell the odor very strongly.

  • Why put down artificial turf in a dog park? Kind of hard to keep clean, no?

  • It’s artificial turf designed especially for dogs. Pretty sure it’s this stuff:

    Wasn’t that reported here?

    Anyway, we’ve been taking our dog to the park since it opened and great as the it is, it’s definitely starting to smell. It’s not dog shit per se. There is a strong shit smell by the lock on 17th, because that’s where the trash can is. But you can’t really smell it more than a few feet away.

    But the rest of the park is beginning to smell, probably because of the urine. I’m wondering if the turf is working the way it’s supposed to. As far as I can tell, it’s designed to let the urine bead off and drain below, possibly to the mulch on the perimeter. It’s possible that it wasn’t installed correctly, which is understandable, considering this is the first park of its kind. In fact, there are a couple parts of the turf (towards the SW corner) where it’s not tacked down all the way and is bulging. There’s other design flaws (gate in the New Hampshire side lock doesn’t go all the way to the ground and small dogs can go right under it) that I hope they’ll fix moving forward.

    I’m also betting that the smell is a result of the heat. Hopefully, itl’ll subside when it cools down. Overall, I think the park is great. But it’s going to need attention.

  • I say close the dog park down until they can get control of the smell.

  • I say close down the city until they can get control of the smell.

  • I live a block away and haven’t noticed any new smells for what it’s worth.

  • I am amazed that dog owners have such clout in the city that they can get taxpayer dollars for dog facilities in lieu of use of such park space for children. I see where we place our values. Now our tax dollars have paid for an odiferous point source, how lovely. woof woof woof 😉

  • @dogged. People have lots of places to bring their children to play. And now we have lots of places to bring our dogs too. There is space for everyone in this city, those with children and those with dogs. I value being inclusive and sharing, so I think the money was well spent.

  • I live rouhgly 100 yards from the park, and have never smellede anything. In fact I have never even heard barking. Pretty nice place in my opinion.

  • I think most dog owners have been smelling their dog’s sh*t for so long they don’t realize that the park STINKS!!

  • Taxpayer dollars are spent where taxpayers want them to be spent. This park is 15 years in the making. It is here because a lot of people wanted it here and because they fought hard to get it here. If people want MORE parks for children then they need to speak up and ask for them. That’s how the system works. You don’t sit around and complain about things you get up, work hard and ask for them. That’s why it took 15 years for the park to be built and now there is a beautiful park and not a ugly dust bowl.

    As far as the smell. In the next 2 weeks there will be another trash can added to help with the dog “poop” smell. With 2 trash cans inside the park this will help cut down the smell. Also they are suppose to be picking up the trash every day which this is an issue that is being resolved. Once it is resolved the trash won’t be left so long to build up so that smell won’t be so bad.

    The turf smelling like urine has been a problem and that is also being addressed. The park has only been open a couple of weeks and this is an issue that is common with the K9 grass. The turf needs to hosed down with a anti-bacterial soap once or twice a week to control the smell. This maintenance will be done by the non-profit group called Circle Dogs that has contract with the city. This will start happening within the next 2 weeks once they get the hoses and soaps. This is the first park of its kind built by the city so a lot of kinks are still being worked out. Meetings with the DPR, Circle Dogs and ANC are all going on to address all of the issues as every one is aware of them and want them resolved.

  • Dogs are not children.

  • So tax dollars will be going to wash antibacterial soap and urine into city storm drains once or twice a week? I suppose that’s marginally better than paying violent or corrupt Jim Graham staffers, but only marginally.

  • An exact copy of this dog park would be a perfect fit for the existing “painted benches” park (14th and Ogden).

  • It all goes to the same place where your urine and the antibacterial soap you use goes.

  • As a mother, I’m more than a little sick of the “there shouldn’t be dog parks because children exist” argument. From where I live in Petworth, I can walk a few blocks in different directions and take my son to three different playgrounds. If I hop on the metro or walk 30 minutes, I have even more options. The city has some great parks and activities for kids — spray parks in the summer that we used almost daily, lots of playground equipment, super kid friendly facilities at the Wilson Aquatic Center (right by the metro), tee ball leagues, art classes, etc. A few dog parks in the city aren’t restricting my son’s access to parks & playgrounds, it’s just providing another city service to another demographic. And quite frankly, the more people out walking their (leashed) dogs, the safer the city is. And that’s better for my family, too.

  • So a dog park gets built and people are surprised that it smells like wet dog and poop? Seriously?

    As far as the fact of the dog park, it doesn’t make sense to hate on dog owners for mobilizing in order to get dog parks built. I lived in Adams Morgan when the first dog park was opened at Walter Pierce Park and saw the work that went into it. Like the old saying goes – “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
    And the city wants to attract and placate urban dog owners, who generally have higher incomes and few, if any kids; which means that they are contributing more $ to the city than they are consuming in services. A dog park is a small price to pay.

  • @ontarioroader, the maintenance and cleaning of the parks is the responsibility of the 501c3 partner organization (in this case Circle Dogs) and not the city – so no, no tax dollars are being used to clean off the turf.

    Once the park is built, maintenance, other than trash collection, is almost entirely the responsibility of the nonprofit and not the city. (This holds for all DPR approved dog parks.)

  • Just an idea, but what about putting a lid on the trash cans, which would then allow them to be closed? Right now the trash cans are open, which allows the smell to escape.

  • I have yet to hear of a dog being involved in a shooting. Can you say the same of D.C. children? Build more dog parks and ban children.

  • This city is blessed with giant swaths of land that are great for people to enjoy pretty much exclusively (the Mall, Rock Creek Park, West Potomac Park, Upshur Park, Fort Dupont Park, Meridian Hill Park, the list goes on) and people are complaining about turning over a scrap of land in the middle of busy intersection for the enjoyment of dog owners? Please.

  • That park was being used as an unofficial “dog park” for years before the legit dog park was built. As it was, that park probably wouldnt have worked as anything besides a dog park anyway. It was good that the city tried to build a nice dog park, but it does smell like wet dog. Hopefully, the city will be able to iron out the park’s wrinkles and make it work.

  • …and before it was an unofficial dog park, it was the favored gathering place for drug dealers and hookers, as I witnessed daily from my apartment overlooking the “park” in the mid-90s.

  • Results of government planning and hard work…

    Heavy, dense clay soil underneath the k9grass turf doesn’t allow for needed proper drainage even after hosing down.

    To do it right would require some excavation, grading, gravel, and sand to allow for trenches for adequate drainage, slope, and run off.

    Right now it all just sits there below the turf, in it, above it, and in the air -more noticeable in warmer temps and higher humidity mostly in shade with limited sunlight.

    Farm animals have it better than these urban dogs and their unknowing owners in this poorly planned, dense, unnatural setting.

  • @jimmy lee Actually, the trash can inside the park does have a lid. It’s spring loaded and is always closed. Now…how much it’s helping, I can’t say. But I’d like to think the smell would be much worse but for it. If it’s true that it’s not being emptied as often as it’s supposed to be and that’s being addressed, then that should solve it.

    However, there is a standard uncovered street trash can just outside the by the new benches, which I’m sure owners use occasionally to/from the park. I’m assuming that one gets emptied as much as other city cans.

  • We don’t own a dog, but have visited the park often since its opening, just to enjoy the park. Anyone complaining about this park either has amnesia, or has not lived here long enough to remember its prior condition as a de facto dog park, and previously as a park that reeked of human urine (and worse), and was also home to drug dealing, prostitution, fights, and threats and harassment upon residents passing by, in the 90s. This park was an absolute hot mess before its recent stunning renewal.

    This park is one of the most creative park installations I have ever seen, across cities worldwide. Incredible credit goes to former Director of Parks and Rec. Clark Ray, and many citizens who worked hard to shepherd this park into existence. As a non-dog owner living nearby, I’m incredibly thankful.

    As mentioned in a previous comment, maintenance has been planned. Let’s give this gem of a park, and the residents behind it, some time to undertake that care, before snarking.

  • The day that dogs start paying taxes is the day we should be building parks for them!

  • Yet another example of the false promises of artificial turf. This is hardly the “maintenance free” panacea that the turf is made out to be. Hosing it off once or twice a week? That’s more watering than any other park lawns get, and in this case it’s not even soaking in to promote growth – it’s 100% wasted water down the storm drain. This is a travesty.

    Why must dog parks be a lush green lawn anyway? What’s wrong with taking a cue from beautiful horse-country landscapes and creating a central area of mixed sand, pea gravel and fines, and contain it within other more ornamental landscaping (separated from the dogs by a nice rail fence). It would look gorgeous, take advantage of the natural filtering capacity of sand/gravel to eliminate the urine problems, and wouldn’t waste precious resources hosing poo off of plastic.

  • I live directly across the street from the park and I am not a dog owner. Despite not actively utilizing the park, I believe it is a great benefit to the neighborhood. Maybe its because I am a dog lover (and I miss my parent’s 2 chihuahuas back home) but nothing improves my mood like seeing a bunch of dogs running and playing together in a clean, safe area. Whether all taxpayers are dog owners is irrelevant, this park brings environmental benefits to everyone in the area (unless you have a fur allergy, I guess).

  • I live 2 blocks away and pass the park almost every day to get to my car. I have never noticed any sort of smell.

    I don’t have a dog, but I appreciate the park very much. It’s a nice addition to the neighborhood especially considering the dirt patch that was there before. It is definitley “community-building” as it seems like a great spot for people in the neighborhood to meet and talke.

  • well said, aj.

    I don’t have any tax-money-eating children, and I’d like to see some of my taxes go towards something I can enjoy with my version of a child, my dog. Calm the f down, dog haters.

  • A “travesty” ???

    As long as you’re not embellishing. What’s with people hating on a damn dog park? So it’s going to take some maintenance. So what? Is anyone asking you to do it? No? Then relax.

    At worst, it won’t work out and it will have been well worth the experiment. God forbid we try new ideas from time to time. Sorry it doesn’t live up to your Monday-morning standards.

    If you want to be that one person out of 1000 who doesn’t crack a smile when walking by a DOG PARK, well whatever. The rest of us will be over here trying to have a civilization.

    Jeez. Has the party-pooper from the H Street festival moved to Dupont?

  • Dog parks aren’t built for dogs, they are built for TAX PAYING dog owners.

    rb- Try not to use the phrase “hate on”. It’s tacky.

  • @rb, I’ve got no problem with it being a dog park. The travesty isn’t the dog park, but the decision to go with artificial turf. It seems like the city was caught up in yet another hard sell for artificial turf as the silver bullet for all of our urban turf problems. I’m disappointed that the design did not go a more sustainable direction that would have worked better and required less maintenance (my suggestion is just one suggestion – I’m a Landscape Architect who has designed these before). As it stands now, if Jbird was speaking the truth, some poor shlub is going to have to hose this place down twice a week. To me, that is bad, unsustainable design.

  • An alternate smell source- I’m walking through Dupont right now and I’m noticing some of our Ginko trees are letting off stink bombs (the ginko fruit smells just like dog crap- normally the trees are treated each year to stop it; last year it didn’t go so well and it seems to be the same again this year)

  • Dog park promoters are like the people screaming at the town hall meetings who derailed the health insurance reform momentum. A small, but very vocal minority, who take it upon themselves to speak for the majority and tell the government how to spend (or not spend) taxpayers’ money. Yeah, the squeaky wheel gets the grease alright….but it also makes you an asshole.

  • I used to ride my bike along the lakefront in Chicago every morning, through Lincoln and Grant Parks. Together they comprise 1,500 acres of fresh air and greenery. And the lakefront path still smells like wet dog in the mornings when people are out letting them romp in the surf. Even exhaust from passing vehicles on Lake Shore Drive does not overpower the smell of wet dog. So I don’t think this dog park’s smell is a result of the park design or any government ineptitude.

    And if you don’t understand why astroturf is used at dog parks, you shouldn’t even be commenting.

  • I live a block away and haven’t noticed the smell, not even when passing by. Both the S and T Street parks have benches for people to sit, a welcome addition. There’s a playground at the Ross School, a block away. I’m very pleased with the renovations–both parks are now much more usable for both dogs and people.

    On the taxes issue: the buildings directly bordering both parks have over 100 condo units, several large apartment buildings, and several large townhouses. It’s likely that one year’s worth of property taxes is by itself more than $500,000, and of course local residents pay much more than that in income taxes. It’s nice to see part of the tax revenue for one year be used in a visible improvement for the neighborhood.

  • I don’t walk by this dog park, but the one on 11th Street stinks to hell. I can smell the poop when I eat out on the porch at Red Rock. I’ve stopped walking by it because it was making me gag. Whomever takes responsibility for maintaining that space (as far as I can tell, no one does), should empty those trash cans a LOT more often and plead with dog owners to clean up after their dogs.

  • @Vo”R” as has been explained repeatedly on this blog, the 11th St. dog park is not an official DPR park, nor is it on city property (I believe it’s owned by WMATA). No one takes responsibility for the area, which is possibly why it’s poorly maintained (I’ve never been there, so I don’t know).

    It’s inaccurate to try to compare that space on 11th with any of the official DPR parks, which each have a nonprofit group dedicated to their maintenance and upkeep.

  • Thanks Nichole, not trying to compare the two places, especially since I’ve never been to the one in Dupont. It would be nice if *someone* who uses the 11th street unofficial park would take responsibility for keeping it from stinking up the corner.

  • I live across the street in a first floor unit, and never notice the smell as I walk past it every day. The newly renovated park both looks and smells much nicer than the unkempt park that used to occupy the same space. All of the people I know in the area (those with and without dogs) seem to enjoy the new addition to our neighborhood. I’m not partial to dogs myself, but its kind of nice that even dog-less people seem to be enjoying the park: I often see people in the non-enclosed area, or even inside just reading a book or watching the dogs and their owners play. Its a really nice thing to walk by every day.

  • I live a half-block away, and I despise dogs.

    I have no problem with the park. I haven’t noted any smell, and I’m hopeful that more dogshit and pee there will mean less dogshit and pee on my little bit of front lawn.

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