It’s Official – Columbia Heights Gets an Unofficial Dog Park at 11th and Park

by Prince Of Petworth — January 26, 2009 at 10:51 pm 52 Comments

DSCN6156, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Last Friday I wrote about the coming dog park at 17th and S Street, NW. In the comments section a reader wrote:

“For a variety of reasons, the Park Road space will not be an “official” dog park anytime in the immediate future (if ever). However, dog owners may note the improved layout of the space (there should be gates going in to fill those two spaces in the fence at some point) which happens to be conducive to use by dogs, and should feel free to congregate, informally, accordingly. Hopefully, regular users will take an interest in keeping the space clean, tidy, and green.”

I spoke with some folks today that confirmed the above comment. The space is owned by Metro and the gate will be intentionally unlocked so that folks can bring their dogs there. MPD won’t bother you because it is Metro land but I agree with the original commenter that it will be up to the community to keep the space clean. I think Councilman Graham probably deserves a fair share of credit as he did quite a bit to make this an official park but it seems to me an unofficial park should be just as good. From what I understand it’s good to go right now. So for folks with dogs be sure to write me and let me know how it goes.

  • Id rather see condos vs a dog park…blah!

  • And I’d rather see my own shattered ribcage on a pike than more condos! DOUBLE-BLAH!

    I, for one, be diggin’ the dog-park idea. Official or not. Finally a patch of fenced goodness within walking distance.

  • Jimmy D

    Since it is UNofficial, does this mean the dogs must remain on leashes while inside the gates?

  • LJ

    I saw guys installing the gates bright and early Monday morning. When I came home from work, people were already putting the park to good use. Congrats!

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think anyone is going to give anyone a hard time with unleashed dogs. They were running around like crazy last night. Again, the main issue is how to maintain because metro won’t do much beyond cutting grass and so on. If people have creative ideas how to get dog users together to make sure poop and trash are picked up, the space doesn’t turn into a dust-bowl (at the very least the humans using it should try to stick primarily to the concrete areas), and it even gets enhanced via additional plantings and trees and the like (would Casey Trees plant in a spot like this?), please feel free to share. The space could be really great but it will take the regular users to step up and make it that way.

  • Jill

    Jim Graham really did a lot to get this agreement with WMATA, as did a lot of other neighborhood volunteers. I hope that those bringing their dogs clean up after, because it is a great space for dogs to run and play – as well as mine! I think that a group may be formed to try and monitor the cleanliness as well.

  • Jimmy D — As I understand it, the Walter Pierce/Adams Morgan dog park has always been “unofficial” though I assume with the improvements being made over there (as reported here recently), that might make it ‘official’ — So if the perimeter of this thing on 11th is fully enclosed, I’d call it leash-free.

    In my experience, 90% of dog-park users tend to be pretty decent folks who clean up after their creatures, so this is a good thing. It’s a pretty small space, though: I can see it getting overcrowded easily. But still. A good thing.

  • Anonymous

    you guys really think you are going to have to worry about cutting the grass? ahahaha. I give that grass about two weeks. then it will be urine drinched dirt just like the one in peirce park. until they decide to lay down gravel over it.

  • CB

    Looking forward to welcoming yet another dog-fouled dustbowl as part of our cityscape.

    So, how do we prevent the dogs-are-people-too crowd from turning the rest of our parkland into “unofficial dog runs?” I’m almost to the point where I’m going to start calling 911 and seeing if I can get MPD to ticket the offender (yeah, I know: fat chance).

    Note to dog owners: if your dog is off-leash, and the pissed-off sweaty runner (me) that your dog just charged/pawed/slobbered on reminds you of the leash law, an incomprehending look and a patronizing “don’t worry, my dog doesn’t bite” are NOT adequate responses. Put your animal on a leash, already!

  • Ron

    Why don’t you go run someplace else, then? Maybe they’ll open a fenced-in running park for people like you someday.

  • ontarioroader

    I wonder how Red Rocks and their customers will feel when summer comes and the lovely odor of dog waste comes wafting across the patio.

  • CaptDecatur

    I don’t know what neighborhood you are living in ontarioroader but the lovely odor of dog waste pails in comparison to the smell of human urine I walk past every other day. Maybe we’d all be better off if you and CB start spending your time phoning the MPD to alert them to some of the legitimate problems in the area as opposed to affectionate animals not on a leash.

  • K North of U

    As both a dog owner and a runner, I sympathize with CB to an extent. You really don’t know what a dog’s temperament is when he is running towards you. Still, calling the cops on a dog owner is a bit much. A little common courtesy on both sides goes a long way.

    I don’t know where the trashcans are on that block, but if they located them away from the corner, I doubt the folks at Red Rocks would ever smell a thing.

  • LOL,
    I see talking about someone’s dog is like spiting in their mother face haaa.

  • CB

    So, violating DC’s leash law is not a “legitimate problem?”

    And I should fence myself off so law-violating dog owners can let their animals roam with impunity?

    And it’s OK to create a public nuisance as long as you think your animal is “affectionate?”

    Nice insight into the mindset of lawbreaking dog owners.

    Repeat after me:
    “Not everyone loves my dog.”
    “The law requires me to keep my dog on a leash, even though I don’t like it.”

  • Anonymous

    I dont care about the dog park. but. dog owners ARE annoying. they are worse than parents. its that “isnt it just so cute when my dog/toddler acts annoying and smells bad” they think they have immunity. like oh dogs will be dogs. kids will be kids. but for those of us who dont choose to partake they are just annoying. and i say that knowing full well that ill have kids and a dog one day. but i wont be that kind of parent/owner.

  • enus gobunger

    Looks like it’s “sweeping generalization day” here at POP.

    To those of you participating in the day’s festivities, I give you this to ponder…Tis’ better to shut up and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.

  • Anonymous

    enus. im pretty sure everyone here understands these are generalizations. feeling the need to point it out… well. lets just say you should have followed your own advice.

  • christopher

    im kind of worried about the smell of dog shit while im enjoying red rocks this summer as well now…hmm

  • enus gobunger

    yet you make a sweeping generalization about both parents and dog owners…you’re fuel the fire…you’re creating an us vs. them environment and that’s not going to help your cause

    way to go

  • Nichole

    re: Leashes at unofficial parks – my local unofficial park is Lincoln Park and we were just talking about the leash thing the other night. The deal is that they absolutely can ticket you for it, and on occasion, they will. This one, being owned by Metro could be different though. (Lincoln Park is policed by the Park Police) I’ve never gotten a ticket at Lincoln Park, and often the Park Police will come by and just make their presence known, but not do anything. (Recently some jackass on a horse came and stood in the middle of the field of dogs, who all freaked out, and someone’s lab got stepped on – horses + dogs that have never seen horses = really bad idea)

    The other thing re “the smell”… is this an issue? I don’t know if it’s the placement of the trash cans, or the large size of Lincoln Park, but it doesn’t smell.

    As much as I love Lincoln Park, I can’t wait until we get our official park over on 13th and D at Kingsman Field. DPR is claiming it will be open by late summer/early fall – I have my doubts, but remain optimistic.

  • Pennywise

    I think without proper maintenance the conclusion is foregone, it will turn into a barren dust bowl, soaked in pee, and with plenty of feces. I am a dog owner / lover but don’t see the sense in an unofficial park. I know not everyone likes dogs and wants to smell their waste while eating at RR. And how is this even remotely legal, given the process that was undertook for official dog parks?

    I give this three months until shutdown. Er, wait, this is WMATA and DC together, make that two years.

  • dreas

    The nearest trash can is on the NW corner of 11th and Park, so diagonally across the intersection from Red Rocks or across Park Rd from this area.

    What I don’t get about those who complain about unleashed dogs bothering them is why you’re not fully on board with enclosed, legit dog parks. The more dogs that are running off-leash in an official, fenced-in dog park, the fewer that are going to bother you while you’re running on the sidewalk. And for what it’s worth, I know not everyone loves my dog – and my dog certainly does not love everyone. I do not let her sniff, paw, jump on, or otherwise bother pedestrians, and I try my best to keep her from barking at those she deems scary (and believe me, I could complain plenty about the people who have no clue about how to approach a strange dog who continually set back all of the re-socialization we’re trying to do with our pup).

    Anyway, I do totally agree about the dogs running off all the grass here – it’s one of the main reasons why we don’t go over to Walter Pierce that often. Well, that and all the shards of broken glass that are everywhere. Short of having them install whatever type of artificial turf that’s going on over on S St, I don’t know what the answer is. But it is a problem.

  • Iliveinshaw

    CB & other haters…

    Don’t you think the installation of dog parks will result in less dogs walking the sidewalks with their owners off leash? You should be happy there are going to be more areas for dogs to be enclosed and free to run around off leash so as to not disturb you on the sidewalks. Who cares if a small corner park turns into a dust bowl?? Its a space that will always have people congregating (will prevent homeless/drunks/drugies from hanging out there instead) and is a space to keep the scary dogs away from you. One would think you’d be prasing all unofficial and official dog parks instead of complaining about them.

  • Anonymous

    “the dogs-are-people-too crowd”, lol, CB is right on!

    Actually, in the Walter Pierce Park case, it was actually “dogs-are-*better*-than-some-people”. Prior to establishing the “unofficial” dog park that’s there now, that space was “home” to several homeless people, including one elderly man with Parkinson’s disease.

    Do you think the people that now *drive* to that park in their Cooper minis and BMWs gave a sh!t (no pun intended) before they pestered Jim Graham about the *need* for their dogs to have a space to exercise?

  • Anonymous

    When a dog touches my body in any way, or assumes an aggressive posture, I consider it battery and will take measures to protect myself, and if necessary, at the peril of the dog and its owner, if said owner attempts to prevent me from protecting myself.

  • Anonymous

    11:17 anon, the Park Road space was not utilized by anyone at all in its prior configuration, in fact most of it was fenced off, so it is not as if anyone has been displaced. There is another park one block away that I think you will find very hospitable to homeless people and substance abusers, so if you are concerned that they don’t have enough places to congregate, that certainly is not an issue in this case.

  • 14th St

    Battery? Please move to NOVA

  • PabloMa

    Er’body calm it! Dog parks are good. There is no shit-wafting-smell, don’t worry so much. This is city life, especially in DC, and it’s great to have another space for the K9s and owners to congregate.

    On a bad note, this new area at 11th and Park IS fenced in, but there is about an 8″ gap underneath most of said fence, and one large 2′ x 2′ completely open area (due to the uneven ground/small hills). I fear dogs a-runnin, and then getting hit by 11th Street cars/bikes. I wonder if anyone will/can fill these gaps? A little chicken wire, perhaps? I’d even be willing to do it, but I think it would not look nice if I tried…

  • steveg202

    Read many of these posts and realize why so little gets done. And why there are so many people easily angered by one another who demand full protection of their “rights”.

    The article says that the park is “unnoficial”. Thus, this is a trial and can be revoked if it does not work out. If you run by this area, the dogs are fenced and thus will not cause you a problem. If dogs are congregated on leash near the entrance, run around this spot to allow them excersise with their own kind on a small land parcel previously unavailable for use. As for “anonymous” saying he will consider battery if a dog touches him and another saying those with BMW’s don’t “giving a shit”, I hope you will find it in your hearts to join the call for change. Have too many of us forgotten how to be kind and flexible living amongst neighbors with different needs? Just because you have a “right” to not be bothered does not mean you should excercise that right as it makes for a less neighborly city. I’m truly not saying this because I own a dog.

    We’ve got kids and we’re planning free pancake breakfasts. A yearly yard sale where everything we don’t need is offered for free to anyone who needs it. Toys for shelters. To teach our kids that giving, without the expectation of getting back, is just a nice way to be. Sorry if this got too preachy. I just can’t believe the anger about usage of such a small parcel completely fenced off to everyone before.

  • PabloMa

    p.s. “Never, ever ever, trust anyone who says they don’t like dogs. You meet someone who doesn’t like dogs, you alert the authorities immediately, and you sure as shit don’t marry them.” ~The Wackness

  • Y’all are some paranoid angry neighbor-hating sumbitches. Relax. Eat some granola. Meditate on Laura Bush’s hypnotic eyeballs. Get a groove. Calm down. Your pills will take effect any minute.

    Dog-parks tend to be gathering places for the more considerate dog owners of the neighborhood. With adequate substrate and the correct type of waste-can, they don’t smell at all. Seriously.

    And, uh, anonymous 11:40: I totally understand what you’re saying. And all dog owners should respect the personal space of strangers. But holy sh*t-blossom, dude, you’re on the fast train to creepy old heart-attack town with that. I HOPE you’d be just as violent if somebody grazes your arm on the bus. I’d hope you to get all kinds of insane knife-face crazy-assed destructo gut-ripper on that person. At least, PLEASE GOD, CONSIDER IT. People are expendable. They breed like rats. Nobody will miss the next one that bumps into you on the elevator at work. Do it. Do it.

  • Anonymous

    PabloMa: “There is no shit-wafting-smell, don’t worry so much. ”

    You obviously haven’t walked past Walter Pierce’s two large green plastic shit cans (literally) on a hot, steamy summer day…..I have to pull my shirt over my nose to walk by that part of the park.

  • Chewy

    Wow…I guess it snows and people lose about 50 points from their IQ around here. I acquired two dogs via marriage and this spot is really close to our house. I love dogs, but I am not one of these “my life revolves around dogs” types of folks and I only walk the dogs by myself when the wife is out of town or running late for work. Since I moved into the neighborhood a year and a half ago, I have always used this spot to take the dogs to the hang out/use the bathroom, and have seen dozens of other people do the same. 99% of the time there is no dog doo in the this little spot and people are generally very courteous in keeping it in decent shape. I also have not once since moving here have I ever seen a dog unleashed in the neighborhood unless it was in a fenced in area.

    So I’m not sure where all of this angst is coming from…there has never been an issue before but now metro encloses the area and makes a little spot for people to let their dogs play and now others are crying that Red Rocks will reak of dog poo, the area is going to turn into a big dust bowl, and CB is going to get mauled by a gang of rabid pit bulls. I’m sure there are areas where their have been issues with the dog parks, but don’t go throwing the same assumptions at this place, epsecially if you don’t know the area.

    “When a dog touches my body in any way, I consider it battery and will take measures to protect myself…” HAHAHAHAHA!!! Show me on the doll where the dog touched you!!

  • Parkwood Person

    Intangible- beautifully written. Just beautiful. My nomination for comment of the day.

  • Iliveinshaw

    IntangibleArts – I just honestly laughed out loud. I truly hope everyone reads your post so they can get a clue! Makes all those like Anon 11:40 look like crazies…..which I am sure they are.

  • Pennywise

    I remember someone making the point here that I found to be true: in my several years of dog walking in NW DC, I have had two instances of ladies barking at me about how dogs were destroying the neighborhood with their poo and pee. On the other hand, I’ve had dozens of delightful interactions with people of all ages who want to pet my dog, know about her, etc. So, overall, my dog is obviously more of a positive than a negative.

    And dogs and people have been together for 15,000 years, so frankly, I think we’re in pretty good shape. Keep blog posting your opposition though, seriously, maybe today is the day.

  • Anonymous

    I am pretty sure that anon 11:40 was just trying to rile you dog owners up to show how lame you are. mission accomplished. I myself have no problem with dog parks and plan on opening privitized yuppie dog parks in vacant lots throughout town. they would be full service complete with coffee and news on gentrification. admission 1 dollar.

  • PabloMa

    Anon 12:33…

    The green trash can(s) at Walter Pierce are NOT CITY TRASH CANS. Someone stupidly thought they could bring their extra trash cans, and the magic trash fairy would keep them emptied. The city does not empty them, and they shouldn’t because it’s not their job.

    If this 11th and Park area maintains use of the city trashcans (the black ones), there will not be a smell.

    Frankie says relax.

  • Anonymous

    Anon at 10:28am – you’ve never owned a dog, have you?

  • Chewy

    i’m anonymous so i’ll just spew some random garbage; 11:40 anonymous is just trying to upset you but i am 12:54 anonymous so i am not going to rile you up. fixing up neighborhoods makes everyone yuppie scum and everyone likes expensive coffee…blah blah blah

  • Anonymous

    “Actually, in the Walter Pierce Park case, it was actually “dogs-are-*better*-than-some-people”. Prior to establishing the “unofficial” dog park that’s there now, that space was “home” to several homeless people, including one elderly man with Parkinson’s disease.”

    Are you serious? You’d prefer the homeless encampment that used to be there? I lived on this block for several years. W.P.P. is much safer now. Not only are the homeless gone, but the drug dealers (and the used crack viles/needles that used to be all over the field) and now, the rest of the neighborhood can actually walk through there after dark without being hassled.

  • Anonymous

    I like how people with names such as Chewy consider themselves somehow less anonymous than those of us who dont bother to think of some retarded moniker. Furthermore if you yuppies hadnt been paying 5 bucks for a cup of joe all your adult lives maybe you could have afforded to buy houses in neighborhoods without homeless people. then you wouldnt have to evict them to make room for your fury companions.

  • Nichole

    I got my dog a year and half ago. If I were to pinpoint a time in my years living in this same spot – that is the moment I really started to get to know my neighbors and feel part of the Hill community. It’s not that I didn’t care before, but having a dog really forces you to get out and about and mingle with folks. Dogs are also conversation starters. When I’m sitting on my patio with my dog in the summer, people (with dogs and without) stop and chat more frequently than in BD (before dog).

    The dog park is such a great community gathering place. Even if you hate dogs (of course, I tend to agree with PabloMa’s quote on that), how can anyone possibly hate a spot that encourages community building?

  • Katherine

    I hate both joggers and dogs.

    That’s why I taser them when they get near me.

  • Anonymous

    i grew up by walter peirce and it was in no way near as sketchy as people make it out to be. not saying there wasnt riff raff but it was perfectly usuable. I as a white kid never had any qualms about going there. but then im a city boy. not a transplant. and the part that is now a doggie dust bowl. soon to be a doggie gravel bowl. had picnic tables that were often home to latino families enjoying a shady picnic on the weekends. Im sure they were thrilled to see they were given to the boot. as thrilled at the white gentrifiers were to see them go. saddest thing i ever saw was soon after the fence was put up a latino woman and her two kids sitting at one of the picnic tables eating lunch. they didnt understand that this was now a dog park. they had no dog.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t latino and black people have dogs too? I don’t think pet ownership is really tied to race or even income — a huge percentage of Americans of all stripes own dogs, cats, or both.

  • Anonymous

    Good point anon @ 2:00pm. Its generally assumed that dog owners are all WASPs carrying a 5 dollar latte, driving their bmw while talking on a cell phone about more ways they can gentrify DC.

  • pauper

    This kind of argument is the exact reason I stopped commenting on here. In my day, we didn’t just assume everyone who had a dog was a schmuck. We didn’t just assume that just because you were new to the neighborhood that you were hellbent on pushing out the poor and destitute.

    No. In my day, we would still talk about the pros and cons of a dog park, but in a civilized manner. And we liked it…WE LOVED IT!!!

    It’s a shame that there’s a few people who have to come out here and act like ignorant schmucks. You know who you are. Instead of wasting your time whining like a child, why don’t you do something constructive? Maybe talk to the people on here rather than cutting everyone down that doesn’t fit your picture of perfect? Or are you too ignorant to understand that might work?

  • Anonymous

    pauper, you come here complaining about people wasting time whining like ignorant schmucks doing nothing constructive…..and in so doing, waste time whining like an ignorant schmuck doing nothing constructive.

    So before you call others ignorant schmucks, maybe you should look in the mirror.

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations, you just proved his point.

  • Dr. Larson

    Hey, with regards to the park, is there a volunteer group to maintain it? That would be a great help. Also, the fence is too high for puppies and small dogs, perhaps that could be addressed by such a group.


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