Dear PoP – Newark Dog Park?

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“Dear PoP,

I think this is worth debate. The city is spending 400 thousand dollars on a dog park going into a wealthy garden community in upper NW. McLean Gardens. Now I can see the city building dog parks in our dense inner city areas with few green places to walk dogs even on a leash, but there are ample places to do so in Mclean Gardens. But what really raises my brow is that at a time when the District claims to be struggling to come up with money for funding safety net programs they are spending 400 THOUSAND dollars on a dog park. Does it really cost 400k for a dog park? I could bulldoze my house and build a new one for 400k. If the residents really want their dogs to be able to run off leash can’t they just put up a chain link fence for 10k and call it a day? Isn’t that what the city did for a dog park in Adams Morgans’ Walter Peirce Park? And in addition to the 400k the city is spending the neighborhood raised 25k for amenities to add to the park after the citys investment. Will there be a pool and sauna? Does the city make public the break down for the costs associated with a project like this? I think we are getting ripped off. I’m picturing the invoice charging us 5000 dollars for a box of nails. and 30,000 dollars for a trash can sort of thing. Is this another no bid contract? I have an uncle that would gladly bid 50k to build McLean Gardens a sweet Dog Park.”

WTOP says:

“The 11,000-square-foot park will be located off Wisconsin Avenue at 39th and Newark Streets in Northwest.

The District is spending more than $400,000 on the park, and residents raised another $25,000 to pay for amenities, such as park benches.

The park is scheduled to open in August.”

146 Comment

  • This is a pretty obscene waste of taxpayer money. Reminds me of back home (New Orleans).

    So, is this a ‘done deal’, or will a sufficient amount of protest put the kibosh on it?

  • Honestly I wasn’t aware that McLean Gardens was considered a “wealthy garden community.” I looked at an apartment there about five years ago and it was a complete dump. I got the impression that the place was closer to a retirement community than anything.

    • A lot of older single professionals and some AU/Gtown [mostly grad] students. A friend was renting a 1br for around $1600. People assume it’s ritzy because of the location. There are some very nicely renovated 2br+ loft units, but for the most part you’re talking standard garden condos – these are former DoD [War Dep’t at the time] dorms/residences that were converted in the ’80s. Folks also like to make a stink about it because Phil Mendelson lives there.

    • Judging an entire community by looking at one apartment five years ago. Well done.

    • agreed. I looked at a property here last year. And upscale it is not… I mean it’s not scary, but it’s a bunch of 4-story brick buildings. Looks like public housing. But clean.

  • But let me add that I can see why Fenty is doing this right now. There are probably a lot of rich old bags living there who just adore him and will fill his campaign coffers.

    • Why would you blame the executive branch for something that so clearly is a Legislative allocation and a Mendolson Reelection giveaway?

      Mendolson is such a waste of space. From his DYRS leadership to this.

      • FYI, Tommy Wells technically overseas DYRS, though I believe Mendelson oversees the laws which make it so juvenile offenders don’t serve any/much time.

        • I hope they’re not serving much time. DYRS spends an insanely exorbitant amount/kid/yr. More time doesnโ€™t equate to improved behavior sadly

          • Read about the recent Betts murderers, the South Capital Street shooters, or Ransom Perry and tell us again if you hope they are not serving much time. While I agree not all bad kids are totally evil, by that token I hope you’ll agree that not all kids are actually wonderful angels who do no harm…

  • This is also in the same neighborhood that has been blocking plans for new condo/retail development near by that would add residents/tax base to the city. Fenty could have used a dog park as leverage to get the neighborhoods support for the development and easily had the developers agree to foot the bill. Instead he is rewarding them for blocking smart growth.

    • Negative – it’s mostly a few single family home owners on Idaho Ave that are blocking the development of the Giant/Murphy’s lot. I’m sure there are some Mclean Gardens residents opposed to it, but they’re not the main ones holding up the plan.

      • Trust me: Most McLean Gardens residents can’t wait for the new Giant. They’d probably help build it themselves if it would make it happen faster.

  • McLean Gardens is in a very nice part of the city – not a dump at all. This is a huge waste of money, and it is frustrating that important social services for low-income residents are being cut while money is getting thrown at non-essential services for wealthy neighborhoods (and their dogs – really?). Classic Fenty move though.

  • I would glady add my name to a petition to stop this waste of money. I’m sure it’s too late since they broke ground. But at the very least I think Fenty has some explaining to do. He needs to show us an itemized cost breakdown for this project. Even with excavation, astroturf, doggy fountains, doggy rides, free dog food and treats provided daily. I don’t see how this project could add up to $400K. Any way to find out how much the fancy R street dog park cost?

    • ah

      You can get to that kind of money when you have the parents complaining about dog poop run off going to the playground, and apartment dwellers complaining about barking dogs, and community gardeners also bellyaching about dog pee. So it’s not just a fence and some dirt/grass. They had to put in special turf, small dog areas/large dog areas, buffer trees, special grading so that all pee would flow only onto the feet of dogs and owners.

      Let’s put a 1c/oz tax on dog food to pay for it.

      • +1 dog owners subsidize dog stuff. I don’t even own a plant (mostly because I don’t get much sunshine ๐Ÿ™ )

  • The people who support the dog park, for the most part, support the new Giant. The opponents are a small handful of people who don’t actually live in the neighborhood and who will wage a war to the death to prevent that Giant from occurring. Not sure how you can use something as leverage against a party that doesn’t care about it.

    And I don’t think Mendo lives in Mclean Gardens anymore.

  • It’s crap like this that only reinforces my view that we don’t need higher taxes in DC, just smarter spending.

  • Can we have a civics lesson in how government works? The legislature provides the money and decides the priorities while the executive branch does what the legislature decides with the money provided.

    It floors me how naive people are. Did people just fall asleep in sophomore civics class?

    This is Mary Cheh’s district right?

    • So does Fenty have the power to veto something like this?

    • You’re pretty naive if you think it’s that simple.

      • Yeah, but blaming Fenty based on the facts presented is indicative of having an axe to grind. The City Council excels at eluding blame for anything unpopular while simultaneously offering nothing constructive to fix problems.

        • Well they’re all a bunch of self-serving idiots who wouldn’t be considered even close to intelligent enough to hold similar positions in most other jurisdictions.

    • The same Mary Cheh who wants to tax sodas to fund healthy schools or something. So there’s an extra half million to dole out for a dog park in NW, but not enough for healthy lunches in schools without a tax? Granted, this amount is just a small dent in the school lunch funding, but it’s a start. What other luxuries are we spending money on that could go towards her healthy schools initiative, so we don’t have to raise taxes and fees? It’s certainly worth looking into.

  • This is the park where I have my community garden plot. I know a lot of the gardeners were very upset about having the other section of the park blocked off for dogs. Personally, I love dogs, so the mere fact of its existence doesn’t bother me, but I’m surprised at the cost. It’s hard to imagine what all the costs are that add up to $400K. Are they installing that fake grass stuff that’s in the 17th Street dog park? Seems unnecessary in a grassy park. If it’s not that, what is costing so much?

    • They will be installing fake turf I’m sure. Real grass wouldnt last a week once it becomes a dog park. Also in all likelihood all the trees will die as well. See the Walter Peirce Dog Park. Used to be filled with trees and now there are 2 or 3 left. Only so much dog pee they can take. In fact maybe some trees will be getting removed before hand accounting for some of the 400k cost?

      • The 11th St Dog Park still has the three trees and they are doing well. I thought that they would die do to all the pee, but I’m guessing all of the drunken soccer players that used those trees as restrooms probably fortified them.

    • I’m under the impression that the fake grass is not going to be installed in any new dog parks in the city. I don’t know for sure, but i assume it is going to be a crushed stone surface in this park.

      • Going forward, most DPR dog parks will have K-9 grass.

        • wow! the park at 17th and s sts. still reeks and it isnt summer yet.. i thought the fake grass was part of the problem? the dog park at 11th and rhode island has stone and rarely smells.

          • The original stone at Shaw was a disaster. DPR had to replace it almost immediately. K9 grass is great for drainage, but does need to be hosed down regularly – which is the responsibility of the non profit partner of the park. I also believe there were some drainage issues at S&T that may be leading to the smell.

  • My guess is this area provides gazillions in taxes and uses virtually no services compared to other Wards, and thus their councilmember went to the mat on this issue to get something back for their tax dollars. All politics are local and this is an election year.

    While I won’t come out in support of this particular park I note our budget deficit is $600 million or so, and canceling this park wouldn’t change that. Would it be better spent on homeless shelters? Maybe, but it may also be entirely misspent. That fact is how the local CM probably pushed this through…

  • A dog park wouldn’t be a bad idea there necessarily. I grew up in the area, and there used to be a great spot a couple blocks from there that has been turned into some VERY nice housing. I’m unlikely to say no to more greenspace, though, naturally, there are other areas of the city that could use it more.

    Having said that, $400,000?!?! Give me a break. I don’t think ANYONE should support that kind of waste. I’m interested to hear what people in the area think of that… I wonder who’s getting the contract for this…

  • There are plenty of dog owners and they want this stuff, so they’re getting it. If bocci players were as powerful and numerous, there’d be a lot of bocci courses in town. It’s simple politics as I see it. So I’m fine with paying $400k for it. That’s pennies anyway for the DC government.

    So now that dog owners are getting all these dog parks, they’ll keep their dogs on leashes, right?

    • Yeah. Like they do at the walter peirce park. I NEVER see ANY dog owners letting their dogs run off leash all over the soccer feild right next to the dog park. NEVER

  • While I am not for or against the dog park in McLean Gardens, I can say this: there is a definite misunderstanding of how the D.C. budget works.

    The money being spent on this dog park *does not*, I repeat, *does not* come from the general fund which is used to pay for teachers, police, social programs, etc. The money comes from the capital fund which is paid for by the sale of municipal bonds to investors or from Federal capital grants (that typically have to be spent in a certain time period or the money goes away). Money from capital budgets cannot so simply be used to pay for general operating expenses. Doing so would harm the city’s bond ratings and make people and companies less likely to invest in D.C. (The city currently has a fantastic AAA rating thanks to ever-increasing property values and consecutive years of balanced budgets).

    Even still, I can’t say for sure that this dog park is a wise capital expenditure; though the argument for using capital funds for community enhancements is that they entice higher-income people to live (or remain) in the community as well as increase property values. Both of these actions increase D.C.’s tax base and provide money that *can* be used to pay for all those lovely social programs that D.C. can barely afford.

    • the city redirects funds all the time. But regardless. If they HAD to spend the 400k on Dog Parks they could have built FORTY of them all across DC. Instead they are building just 1 in an already ammenity filled, leafy green, neighborhood.

      • Like I said, I have no idea where this particular funding came from. It could be stimulus act funding, some other grant from the DOT, or it could be the work of an extremely active local community that’s good at extracting city services out of D.C. government. People are probably just mad they aren’t as politically connected.

      • The one in Capitol Hill has been delayed for the past 2 years so it would be surprising if this one got built so quickly.

        • Indeed true. And dare I point out the obvious? Fenty is also on a spur to make city improvements in areas that are politically important to his re-election bid. Again, no proof that this is what is happening in McLean Gardens, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

          • Yeah, but it’s Tommy Wells that pushed through the Dog Park. Fenty had nothing to do with it. The signs for Gray in Capitol Hill are 2:1 for Gray.

            Your assumptions are way off.

          • That’s what I mean. McLean Gardens probably support Fenty: they get a dog park.

            Capitol Hill supports Gray: their dog park gets delayed for 2 years. It’s exactly that Wells has been pushing the dog park that it probably won’t happen. If/when it does, the credit would go to him, not Fenty.

  • The wisdom of this particular project aside, I find it somewhat ironic on the heels of yesterday’s tax bracket post that a relatively minor expenditure of 400k for a community amenity in a “rich” neighborhood is seen by some as a mortal sin. Taxpayers have every right to civic services, and if that’s what this community wants, it shouldn’t be a big deal that money is being spent in the more wealthy parts of the District. Being rich shouldn’t mean that you’re expected only to pay taxes, not benefit from them.

  • Just because citizens live in a wealthy area, they shouldn’t get amenities as well?! I live in CH and love it but I used to live in Glover Park. Did I suddenly become a more valuable tax payer just because I moved?!

  • We’re slated to get a dog park in 16th st heights-ish area, so i don’t know if you can complain that it’s just the rich people on wisconsin avenue that are getting dog parks.

  • I’m glad Adam L cleared up how DC’s money is spent. Unfortunately people will continue to think what they want, and moan about the 400k going to a dog park in a “rich” neighborhood that could of been spent on social programs…

    While the price tag seems a bit excessive, it has the potential of keeping the higher tax brackets in the District.
    I’m all for it.

    • Yes, it is clearly moronic for thinking that mental health services are more important than having a grassy area where dogs can crap in peace.

      Neither you or Adam L have any idea exactly what budget line item is used to pay for this amenity. Its entirely possible this money could be used for a function significantly more critical than a dog park.

      • Agreed. I am 99% confident that the funds were spent out of the capital budget; nobody is so stupid as to fight to spend money out of the already strained operating budget when you could just get the money relatively easy capital budget)

        That said, there are probably many more capital needs that are more critical than a dog park. That is for the community to decide.

      • Lisa, thank you for proving my point.

  • Dog parks are nice. As a dog owner, they give me areas in the city where i can play with my dog and not worry about dog haters complaining or having to deal with people who have no idea how to act around dogs. Its safer and nicer for me and everyone else in the neighborhood.

    • It’s nice that your dog will have a free space to run. Too bad it will totally destroy my quiet, peaceful plot in the community garden. I am so upset that my lovely get-away garden spot will now be ruined by the constant sound of barking dogs ๐Ÿ™

      • I’d feel more sympathy for the community garden folks if they treated those gardens like actual public space, rather than their own private property. How often do plots turnover? Why is there not even a wait list anymore because it would take decades for someone new to get a plot? Why isn’t there a time limit on how long a person can “hold” onto a plot?

        Cry me a river.

        Those community garden folks have enjoyed public space for their own private use for decades. It’s about time the taxpaying folks with dogs got to do the same.

  • Time for a dog tax?

    • There’s already a $15 registration fee for dogs, so that’s a sort of tax. I am sure that money is carefully monitored and well spent ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I’m 100% in favor..especially to pay for dog parks to avoid the “your dog is off leash” bs. Bring it on.

      But the same constituency complaining about development in rich parts of town would complain that the dog tax would unfairly burden them. Then they’d have to put in a “progressive” dog taxing system based on income. So we’d be taxing all the little shitzu’s at 4x the rate of all the pit bulls piling up at the pound.

      Most of the dog owners are more than willing to help foot the bill to make the dog parks work. $25k is a decent chunk of change to make peace with your neighbors, but it’s worth it.

    • there is a dog “tax” BRING on my amenities it’s about time:,A,1384,Q,572085.asp

    • My dog doesn’t have any income, so he wouldn’t be paying any taxes. I would sign him for welfare and a section 8 housing voucher, though.

  • Park benches are an “amenity?” As in, “this Vegas hotel offers amenities, such as a spa and a weight room.” Stuck me as funny, somehow.

  • The park where this is going is public and open to everyone- it’s not like its private for Mclean Gardens owners. Should the city stop maintaining the public courts because not everyone plays tennis? Should they have not installed more playground equiptment because not everyone has young kids? Just because a certain expense benefits some of the community but not all doesn’t mean that it’s a bad use of money.

    Lots of people in NW have dogs, and there isn’t another dog park anywhere else in Upper NW (closest one is in Adams Morgan). Letting dogs off the leash in public areas is dangerous. Dogs pooping everywhere is a health hazard. Having a defined, clean area such as this dog park benefits both dog owners and those who don’t have dogs.

    Am I the only person who’s happy to see this dog park go in?

    • I could care less either way as long as the one at Kingsman gets built. I think it’s probably a poor choice to start this year, but long term it’s a good thing for the city.

  • I have no dog in this fight – I don’t own a dog and don’t live in McLean Gardens. But I don’t begrudge McLean Gardens from getting its share of love from the City coffers. It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. If half of the people who are bemoaning this plan now, after the fact, had come out against it from the get go, it might not be happening. You snoozed so you lost.
    Having said that, I am curious as to whether the cost is in line with what other dog parks have cost. The one on 11th St near Rhode Island Ave is pretty big. Did that cost $400k? How much did the park on 17th St. cost? If this is some kind of uber high-end park, I have a problem with that. All you really need is a fence, grass or some pet friendly surface, and water fountains.

    • Kingsman dog park is scheduled at $250-$500k.

    • I had heard that the fence alone in the 17th St dog park cost almost a couple hundred thousand. Maybe because of architectural restrictions in a historic area – they weren’t able to just use chain link. Personally, as a dog owner, I would be happy with any kind of fenced in lot, but the ANCs and neighbors might not like that.

  • I guarantee a big chunk of that budget is making the park accessible for wheelchairs. you aren’t allowed to just build a fence. you have to accommodate all those wheelchair bound dog walkers you see everywhere.

  • I pay a dog tax already when I registered my dog with the city.

  • My guess is a major portion of the $400K is for insurance.

  • I’m happy to see this dog park go in. Especially because they’ve been working on it for many, many years. The group that worked for this is the same group that helped get the dog park authorization bill and regulations passed. I think it’s taken so long partly because the garden club has fought tooth and nail against having a dog park there. That said, $400,000 does sound high. I, too, wonder what all that money is being used for.

    Re the comment on the trees in the Walter Pierce dog park: They recently took down 5 trees, only 2 or 3 of which were dead. There still are about 8-10 healthy trees in the dog park, which provide much-needed shade.

    • Not for long. The last tree removal you speak of wasn’t the first. There was a round of tree removal not long after the Walter Peirce Dog Park first opened. Once one dog marks a tree they all do. You are talking about anywhere between 50-100 dogs pissing on the same tree each day. Then the tree dies. Enjoy the shade while it lasts.

  • I repeat to all those supporting this. its nearly half a million bucks. Hell knowing the city it’ll probably go over budget too! Nobody is saying there shouldnt be dog parks. nobody is saying the rich neighborhoods don’t deserve city funded amenities. Nobody is saying the Mclean Gardens residents shouldnt have a fenced off-leash area for dogs. But FOURHUNDREDTHOUSANDDOLLARS?!?!?!

    • Spend 6 months working in construction. People have no idea what things actually cost. The city could probably halve the cost by deregulating the construction industry and closing public comment on the design. But every idiot with nothing to do wants his $0.02 put in and you have to have 25 public meetings to get to a consensus. When was the last time anyone on the blog went in and worked for free? Really for free, not just to catch up. Time is money.

      And no one wants deregulated construction. That’s a bad idea.

      • then let’s see the cost breakdown. I’m willing to be educated on this point. I’d just like to know what’s costing us so much.

      • Having worked in construction, would you say that $400k is a decent estimate? No snark here, honestly wondering.

    • Without being any kind of expert it sounds reasonable to me. Materials, however many workers, design, supervision, etc are all going to add up. On top of that you’re working in a city which always costs more. As Ragged Dog said most people have no idea what construction costs.

  • So to clarify (at least IMHO), the biggest sore spot here is not that “rich” people are getting amenities. It’s that this dog park is costing Four Hundred Thousand Dollars!!!

    As has been pointed out, you could build 10 dog parks for that money all around the city for that much. And as capital improvements, that spending would still follow the parameters as described by Adam L for the spending of certain allocated funds.

    This is pure waste, plain and simple.

    And if 10 dog parks aren’t the thing, then fill a bunch of potholes or build more playgrounds or whatever civic improvement you like.

    • You cannot build a dog park that conforms to basic standards for $40k. Don’t be ridiculous.

      • So how much did the one at Walter Peirce Park or Park Road and 11th cost us? Ill be hot damned if they cost us a penny over 20k

        • the one at Park & 11th didn’t cost anything, because it’s not actually an official city dog park. Graham worked a deal with WMATA to let dog owners use the land with the understanding that there would be no improvements to bring it up to dog park standards (surface, water, lights, etc), besides putting gates in the fence. Red Rocks graciously supplies the waste bags, if I understand correctly.

          That said, with the exception of the fact that I can let my dog off the leash there, the park is absolutely awful. it’s a complete dust bowl on dry days and a mud pit on rainy days. If it had been designed as an actual dog park (which costs money, hence the price tag here), it would have drainage and a surface that didn’t turn to dust or mud.

          Reference discussion here:

          The bottom line is that it does cost a lot of money to do this right – architects, civil engineers, time for public comment, design revisions, installation of water and possibly electrical, and has anyone here priced a fence lately?

          • 7ft high all-wood fence, cement-sunk posts, around a huge backyard – plenty big enough for a medium-sized dog park (included removal of old chain link fence): $7,000.

            Double it. Hell, triple it. Still falls a bit short of $400k.

            I realize that there are a lot of things (not just a fence) that need to happen to build an ‘official’ dog park, but I still wanna see the breakdown. Until then, I’m hugely skeptical.

          • Yeah, I’d love to se 50k of that 400 spent to create a sanitary surface for the Park Road Park — no bells and whistles, just a way to keep waste from running into the ‘hood. Speaking of that park, and I realize it is off topic, although I am glad the previously-wasted space is being used, I am very disgusted that the regular users haven’t managed to get some sort of friends of group together to work to regularly maintain the space / try to keep it vaguely tidely / even invest some money there. I kinda figured once the city created the space, people might step up, but no such luck. I think at some point the city should just put a padlock on (this wasn’t my idea but I’ll share it) and say, until there is a friends of group established, this space is off limits, because it is getting pretty gross and it seems like there is no chance the city will do anything about it given that it is metro property.

          • @New2CH: you made the exact point there – zero dollars of the 400k will ever go to that park, because it’s not city property, nor in the city budget.

            now that you’ve seen what it takes to get a real park built, how do you expect the regular users to raise that? me and the other 4 owners I know aren’t about to raise 50k. the regular users pick up after their own dog and pick up after the more careless owners’ dogs. however, we have no way of maintaining the surface of the ground. i doubt wmata would be too psyched if we brought in a truckload of gravel that wound up spilling into their service tunnel entrance when the dogs run around.

            if you want to set up a community organization to improve the park, throw some fliers up. i’m sure you’ll get some interest.

      • then come up with whatever f-ing number you want. It’s totally arbitrary! The point is you could build MANY THINGS with $400K that MANY PEOPLE could enjoy and make use of, not just the people in one part of town.

        Damn. I’m so sick of people on here who live to dissect and criticize every word, especially when the example I gave was so clearly hypothetical.

        By the way, what ARE the basic standards for a dog park that would push the cost over $40K? A big fence…. and what?

  • It is simply not the case that the neighbors/residents insisted on a $400K dog park. The dog park itself is going to be gravel, not artificial turf, with a chain link fence. Everything else inside the park (benches, etc.) is paid for with private funds.

    I don’t know what the $400K budget goes to, but my guess is – The city requires that the project include an ADA accessible entrance ramp (for access to the entire park – gardens, playground, tennis courts). The playground on the site is going to get a safety fence to keep toddlers from running into the street (also a condition from DPR/local ANC). There will be new plantings (which the community gardeners requested to improve the appearance). They may also have to shore up a hillside that basically is eroding away and degrading the sidewalk next to it, and remove a few scraggly dying trees.

    I know it doesn’t fit the stereotype of wealthy Ward 3 snobs stealing city money from the poor, but other than upgrading the tennis courts, this park has been basically unchanged in terms of maintenance/improvements in the past 10 years.

  • Furthermore, the argument that “$400k is just a tiny fraction of the debt or the budget or whatever, so who cares anyway” doesn’t hold any water for me.

    If you were cutting expenses in your own budget at home, would you keep your expensive cable/satelite/dish service if another option were available, saving you say, 30 bucks a month just because compared to your rent/mortgage/grocery bill it was just a tiny sliver of your monthly expenditure?

    If you’re tightening your belt, you look everywhere for places to do so, because all those small savings add up. And you don’t go buy a huge flat screen TV when you car needs a new alternator!

    • If you’re saying wrong project, wrong time. I 100% agree with you.

      If you’re arguing about the cost still, know that even at $250k the original developer of the Kingsman dog park backed out.

      So if you think you can make some cash on the project, by all means go right ahead. A DC Basic Business License is in the neighborhood of $200

      • what I mean is a vast amount of money is still a vast amount of money, even if it’s only a tiny sliver of your overall budget.

        and shrugging one’s shoulders at a waste (whether it’s a waste is still TBD, I suppose) of a vast amount of money because DC’s budget is so huge is just foolish.

        Politicians often use this tactic to belittle other politicians’ attempts to cut spending, saying that in the grand scheme of a multi-trillion dollar debt scenario, $12M is nothing and not worth the cut. But gather up a bunch of $12M cuts and soon you’re talkin’ real money.

        • There’s no way a wedding should cost what it does, but weddings cost ridiculous amounts of money. You can hire a wedding coordinator who can negotiate prices down to a less ridiculous level, but then you have to pay the coordinator.

          Either way, if you want to have a wedding that doesn’t feature your cousin with an IPOD and dandelions, you’re going to have to shell out some money.

          And in no way to I mean to disrespect people who had nice quiet family weddings. But if you want something done semi-professionally (and any kind of infrastructure you do) you have to pay the costs.

  • I gotta say I’m surprised the Mclean residents support such a huge (and at 400k I would assume extremely fancy) dog park. A smaller no thrills fenced area like Walter Peirce would serve the community only. The one they are planning will draw people from neighborhoods far and wide. And not by bus or metro obviously. Parking is already tight there and it’s about to get worse. Unless they are allocating some of the 400k for a dog owner parking lot.

  • I’d say that we could get a bunch of volunteers to construct this (or any) dog park for a fraction of $400k. Just have the city fork over the cash for the construction material and have at it.

    • Great, then the dog park will be as poorly constructed as most of the rehabs in this city. Nice. Never do anything half*ssed. Do it right the first time, and that includes getting people who are knowledgable to do the work.

  • is there any sort of transparency in projects like this? i am asking seriously, because i do not know. i would love to see, from the DC gov, a breakdown of requirements for the dog park in a request for quote (RFQ) kind of format, along with the submitted quotes from each vendor. anything like that available to the public for these kind of projects?

    • No, DC government doesn’t even know how many people it employs and certainly doesn’t publicize much info on bidding etc. You may be able to find a binder in some office somewhere that tells you, but good luck finding it. CapStat was supposed to be the first major step in transparency for DC government, but its updated sporadically and unevenly. Welcome to Washington!

      • thanks briefly… short of googling ‘CapStat’, any ideas on where to get information on its implimentation and which, if any, of our elected public servants supported it? i have never heard of it, but would LOVE to read up on it. i can not believe that DC can be ran into the ground like it has been for the past couple of decades, and no one from the outside is checking the numbers…

  • If it’s an 11,000 square foot park, the decomposed granite is to be laid to a depth of at least 6 inches, that’s a volume of 5500 ft^3, or 203.7 cubic yards. From a website ( I found a cost of $74/cu-yd for decomposed granite. That’s $15k.

    About $11k for the fence (11,000sqft, estimate about 105 foot sides, total 420 feet of 5′ high fencing… For a nicer aluminum fence at $75/linear foot, posts at $25 a pop, a gate for $250…)

    So there’s $26k for gravel and a NICE fence, not wholesale price.

    Sewage system cost estimates anyone?

    • Labor costs… Not totally sure what the city gets paid, but from my experience, a lower end mechanical engineer goes for about $100 (including all overhead, etc.), so being conservative, figure $120/hr? I can’t imagine the design of the fence would take that long, figure a week, design of the sewage system a month? So 5 weeks of mechE = $24k, at LEAST! We’re up to 1/8th of the project cost with just the fence, gravel, and mechanical engineer labor.

      • Gross everything up 50-75 for taxes and overhead at every level of sub-contractor. Every single scrap of material and every person hired has to pay business taxes and personal income taxes. Add a percentage for every businesses’ accountant and add 10-25% extra material so that you don’t run out mid project and then have to delay your schedule waiting for more.

        A planning architect is going to work on this for 6 months part time. This person works for a corporation. The corporation is going to pay the architect $100k+ per year + benefits, but then has to bring some money in itself.

        If DC gave me the budget I could do this by myself, but it would still cost $250k. Because you have to pay me for my time, for the materials, for my college education and/or industry training certificates to make sure I don’t put a backhoe through an electrical power line. You’re also going to pay me to sit with DCRA for 4 months dealing with a bunch of knuckleheads. I’m going to have to pay for DCWASA to show up and do their thing and pay Pepco to do theirs.

        On private land in Idaho it’s a $40k/4 week project.

  • This is a poorly planned dog park in an already densely saturated park with multiple user groups. Fenty and his staff should consider urban planning uses prior to approving these plans.

    Gone are the days of peace and quiet at Newark Street Park and hello to loud uncontrollable dog barking at the hands of unresponsive dog owners.

    There are plenty of places nearby that are more suited for dog parks. This is only going to exacerbate user conflicts. Vote for Fenty! ๐Ÿ™

    The dog park is massive…$11,000 square feet. Any idea who the contractors are? Fenty’s boyz?,a,1239,q,641994.asp

    • NIMBY’s rule!

      It’s ok as long as it doesn’t bother me! Build it somewhere else!


    • Unless you’re planting vegitables in dog grass or running your 3 year old around inside a dog park, it’s going to reduce the complaining 100 fold.

  • I’m always amazed at how aggressively people push their belief as if it is a fact. Nobody has been able to demonstrate that $400,000 is a lot for a dog park. Saying so doesn’t make it so.

    • I agree, that’s why I’m trying to run numbers to get cost of at least materials. It’s going to add up pretty quick, even without any incompetence factored in.

    • on the other hand we have yet to hear one person of the opposing view offer up any reason why it would cost 400 thousand dollars. I friend just gutted his arlington bungalow and completely rebuilt from scratch a three story house. with high end kitchen. Budget 350k. Tell me how a fence and gravel comes anywhere close.

      • +1, with a caveat: I’ve said about three or four times here to show me the money. I wanna see why it costs $400k.

        So far, only Mal has presented anything whatsoever – and his numbers don’t yet add up to anything close to $400k (although they *are* climbing fast!). I’m keeping an open mind – and warily anticipating labor costs, Anon1232.

        @yatrakarna: several people here have presented real facts concerning the costs of razing and rebuilding houses (under $400k). To me, home construction and dog park construction are not in the same ‘ahem’ ball park. Puts it in a bit of perspective, maybe.

  • Boy, it’d sure be nice to have even 1 dog park for us folks not in the NW. . .

    • Then get motivated and try to bring one to your quadrant…

    • Kingsman. 13th and D NE

      In the meantime, join Congressional cemetery or just go to Lincoln Park any night of the week.

    • You get group houses!!

      (and not all NW gets dog parks, along upper JoJa in Ward 4 we get group houses too)

  • Wow. Okay, so I’m on the board of Hill Hounds, the non profit partner of DPR for the Kingsman Field dog park.

    First of all, I haven’t been up to the Newark site, and don’t know what it looks like now or what their plan is. I know they’re using decomposed granite as their surface (although at this point, the preference going forward is K9 grass, which is what will be at Kingsman).

    Having not seen the site, I can’t guess where the money’s going, but I can tell you the largest expense at Kingsman. To build our field at Kingsman, they have to remove all the existing asphalt – that in and of itself isn’t cheap, but recycling that asphalt is the most expensive line item on the budget.

    The project at Kingsman has been delayed b/c of issues inside of DPR, primarily to do with the bidding process. (the project had to be bid twice b/c the bids that came in the first time were so far out of line with regard to both budget and scope that none could be accepted.) The contract was finally awarded last month, and ground will be broken this summer with the park opening in the fall.

    With regard to Kingsman, while Tommy’s been very supportive, this is all DPR/Fenty. Clark Ray was very supportive of the dog park initiatives and was a huge help (with Fenty) in getting it done. Dog parks are indeed a capital expenditure, and in the case of Kingsman, this money was budgeted and set aside 2 years ago.

    Newark got build before Kingsman just because that’s how the chips fell. Again, all to do with the contracting process.

    • If you can, could you weigh in on if $400k is reasonable, compared to Kingsman? If not because you’re connected to the project, completely understandable.

      Obviously, this isn’t something that can be done for pennies! Labor, materials, disposal of excavated items (never thought of that!).

      • I can tell you what’s in the Kingsman budget. I can only guess at what the additional costs at Newark might be going toward.

        For Kingsman, like I said, excavation and removal is the most expensive thing. It’s about half of the total budget. The city also has to put in a water source and drainage system. Fencing and a new ADA compliant walkway and entrance have to be added. New lighting is being put in. And of course the K9 grass, which comparatively, isn’t all that expensive.

        Those of you who have been to the S&T park at 17th st. may have noticed that there were some drainage issues related to grading. DPR is actually trying to learn from mistakes at S&T and Shaw and trying to do it right the first time, so I wonder if there’s not additional excavation needed in order to prevent drainage problems. I also wonder, since it’s close to a garden, if they’re not taking some additional measures to protect the garden from run off.

        Again, I can only speak about Kingsman, but it’s amazing how quickly costs add up.

        We’re responsible for buying all benches, tables, landscaping, waste bags and anything else we want to have, which is the case with all of the DPR dog parks. The non profits foot the bill for everything beyond the very basics I mentioned above.

    • So Nichole you must be familiar with the budget for Kingsman. What is it?
      As for asphalt removal. Nope. no asphalt to remove at the Newark location.

      • DPR’s budget for Kingsman is somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000. We’ll have a clearer idea once ground is broken on which end of that spectrum we’ll fall.

        Kingsman will be approx. 12,500 square ft, and we’re trying to stay around $16/sq ft.

        I would be interested to know if this $400K figure for Newark is accurate though. These numbers get tossed around and it’s hard to know where they originate from. Like, whoever said Kingsman was going to be btwn 250K and 500K – that’s just absurd. We’ll max out at around 250K, if that. I hear a lot of anti-dog park people throw around numbers that have no basis in reality.

          • Yes, but this is what it says:

            The parks department has estimated the project will cost between $250,000 and $500,000, though it has not given a more specific number. Parks officials did not return multiple calls from the Voice.

            So, really, that was just speculation on the part of Paul, b/c I’m the only one he interviewed for that article and those are not numbers I gave him and DPR never returned his calls.

          • It’s probably an order of magnitude estimate for the budget at this point. It means they think its in the 200k-600k range or so instead of 50k or $2 million. As such it likely should not be taken as a final price tag which comes out when bidding is finalized.

          • @CHBoy – exactly, which is why I think that this $400K number may not be accurate. Someone may have taken the upper end of an estimate and ran with it.

            I also know that at one point, Kingsman and Newark were going to be bid together – so maybe it came from an old $400K for both estimate. They were ultimately bid separately, I just wonder if that figure isn’t lingering.

            Again, I really don’t know – just speculating.

  • Parks are expensive. The new playground at 8th and Taylor in Petworth cost over $2 million (a private grant paid for it, not city funds). Part of the cost is that the materials used – iron fence, lighting are high cost because they also have to last and be durable. I’m pretty sure a major portion of the $400K budget is the fence. It makes sense – if fencing a tiny row house yard with an iron fence is $20K (just guessing – a wood fence estimate I got was $8K) it’s not surprising that a larger park could get very pricey.

  • the design also calls for multiple (5) lights, so you have the cost of the materials there, plus infrastructure to support the electricity.

    also, it looks like they’re proposing putting in some mature trees to segregate the community garden – pricing on those?

  • Commercial grade wrought iron fence is roughly $150 per 8 feet wide panel. Anybody knows the total length of the park?

  • So far I’ve found:

    Millie Bush Bark Park

    Location: George Bush Park, Westhiemer/Hwy 6 area
    Jurisdiction: Harris County Precinct 3; Steve Radack, Commissioner

    Designed by: Michael Cunningham
    Harris County Public Infrastructure Dept.
    Park Planning Section

    Date Dedicated: April 2, 2004

    Features: 15 Fenced Acres, 3 swimming ponds, Walking trail, Shade structures, Double-gated entry, Plastic Bag dispensers, Trash Cans, Water fountains, Separate small dog area, fire hydrants, Dog Showers, Benches, Parking for 100 cars

    Estimated use: Weekends, 50 dogs per hour, 250 โ€“ 300 dogs per day.

    Constructed by Precinct 3 Personnel
    Estimated cost $225,000.00 (built in 2003)

    Bill Archer Dog Park

    Location: Congressman Bill Archer Park, Bearcreek Park on Hwy 6
    Jurisdiction: Harris County Precinct 3, Texas; Steve Radack, Commissioner

    Designed and Constructed by: Harris County Precinct Three

    Date Dedicated: April 2007

    Features: 20 fenced Acres, Separate area for small dogs, Agility equipment, 2 bone shaped swimming ponds, Walking trails, Plastic Bag dispensers, Trash Cans, Fire Hydrants, Water fountains, Shade covers and benches, Dog Showers, Parking for 250 cars, Bathrooms

    Estimated use: Weekends: 50 dogs per hour, 250 โ€“ 300 dogs per day.

    Estimated cost $450,000.00

    TC Jester Dog Park:

    Location: TC Jester Park
    Jurisdiction: City of Houston

    Designed and Constructed by: City of Houston

    Date Dedicated: April 2010

    Features: 1 fenced Acre, Separate area for small dogs, Plastic bag dispensers, Trash cans, Water hose attachment and cement platform for washing/watering dogs, benches

    Estimated use: Weekends: 15 dogs per hour, 50 dogs per day.

    Estimated cost $150,000.00

    • I think this info about sums it up. Sounds like Houston is a lot more competent when it comes to dog park construction. Perhaps we could fly their entire crew to DC. house them at the Hilton and construct us one of there 150k dog parks. And we would probably still come in under the initial 400k estimate. I repeat. Fentys boys are over charging us up the wazoo for their park projects. plain and simple

      • The cost of living in Houston is 1/2 what it is in DC. Materials, equipment & taxes (no state income tax) are all cheaper there.

  • I feel for the people who have to live next to this dog park. First b/c of the noise and second b/c their property values are going to drop. Even dog owners don’t want to hear that incessant barking. The condos across from the Rhode Island park took a very very long time to sell, and I dont think it was all b/c of the economy.

    • Are you serious, Mori? In adams morgan, they advertise condos as being close to the dog park and it’s a big draw. It helps sales and increases property values.

      • I think Mori has a point. Sure its great to be within a short stroll to a dog park. But to be located directly across from one is a different story. The Adams Morgan Dog Park is in a park not within ear shot of much residential. This Mclean Garden Dog Park will easily be heard and probably even smelled by the folks across 39th street. Just sayin… And to those that will say dog parks install smell proof trash recepticals. Well. I have never walked past a dog park that doesnt smell like doodoo.

        • the $150K park is 1 acre and completed in 2010 so it should reflect current material and labor costs. Anybody knows the size of the McLean Gardens park?

          • 11,000 sq ft. But these parks in Houston don’t seem to be comparable. There’s no mention of surface covering, so I’m assuming they took largely unused plots of grassy land and plunked down fences (the ones where they put in more amenities were much more expensive than the 150K ones).

        • If you have a dog, you’re used to the smell which is largely temperature/humidity dependent and you appreciate a dog park across the street when it’s 25F and snowing.

          Lincoln Park has scores of dogs every day and it’s not particularly loud… except when all the screaming kids show up.

    • Dog parks actually increase property values, not just because they’re seen as intrinsically valuable, but often because they take space that was unused and didn’t have many “eyes on the street” and make an area safer by virtue of the fact that people are using space. (This is the case at Kingsman – the area being used for the dog park was just an empty asphalt lot next to the sports fields and there has been a lot of drug dealing and other criminal activity going on.)

  • I love dogs and love dog parks. But seriously, spend $300,000 on decent (drunk free) kids parks in Columbia Heights and Petworth. Spend $100,000 on a dog park for rich people.

    Or, at least spend some of the money to put that nice dog park turf on the Columbia Heights dog park.

    • For the millionth time – the dog park in Columbia Heights is NOT an official DPR dog park. It is on WMATA land, not District property.

    • We have drunk free kids parks all over the city. If yours isn’t, get off your butt and call the cops. Stop making it someone else’s problem.

      • I find it fun to look at neighborhood parks on Google Streetview and seeing which have drunks present when the photo was taken. The ones I checked in Ward 4 often had them, and still do. Note the one park I aggressively tried to get cleaned up I eventually gave up on, basically more people are interested in drinking in parks than anything else in that area of Ward 4 / Takoma. I can’t be there all the time, I can’t call the police all the time, and if I am the only one who cares then what’s the incentive to clean up the park? Drinking in public is not quite illegal in DC, nor is loitering, so its actually hard to get these places cleaned up if the police don’t get proactive, which they won’t do without prodding from a CM. Welcome to DC…

  • Sorry, meant to reply to John at 4:27PM

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