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Residents Discuss Avondale Dog Park

One resident who walks around the neighborhood with a bird asks why not spend the money on a parrot playground?

When it comes to pets, people get emotional.

That's exactly what happened at the public hearing for the proposed City of Avondale Estates dog park Monday night. People talked about everything from to barking noise. They also talked about how dogs are better behaved when they get to play in a dog park, and even bark less.

The ad hoc dog park committee presented to the community two potential sites. Those under consideration are and a location by the Bird Sanctuary

Afterward, residents expressed concerns or support to a room filled with nearly 50 residents, along with the Mayor and Board of Commissioners.

Avondale resident Jennifer Yaxall has young children, two dogs and said she regularly donates to the Humane Society. She calls herself an animal lover. Still, Yaxall is against the dog park.

"I'm adamently against the dog park," Yaxall said. "Most of us have yards that we can let our dogs run around in or we can walk our dogs on sidewalks. ... If we lived in some urban city where we only had skyscrapers and no greenspace, well then I would say a dog park is warranted."

Nikki Graves said she often walks around Avondale with her parrot and had a question for dog owners.

"I don't have a dog - I love dogs," said Graves. "I do have a parrot. How about building a parrot playground. Would you be in favor of that?"

Graves also noted barking dog issues around the neighborhood. She said, "Why not take tax dollars and put it into bird sanctuary and work on creating green space that would benefit everyone?"

The city's proposed dog park would mostly be funded with tax dollars, according to the plan. Though no costs were exactly provided, the bird sanctuary plan could cost at least $30,000 to execute, according to one plan on the city's website. The ad hoc dog park committee said the costs would be much less if tied to Willis Park, since very little site work would need to be done.

Resident Tara Levine said she doesn't have a dog, but wants to know how her taxes would be impacted.

"I also don't have kids or parrots," Levine said, adding that there's not even space in her yard for a dog. "I don't use playgrounds. As far as putting taxpayer funds, for me I’m not getting a benefit out of either one. It would be interesting to see how much would come from taxpayer funds rather than volunteer funds."

If the dog park were to locate at Willis Park, the Avondale Swim Club board sent a messenger to the meeting in support of the idea, since it may include parking, restrooms and add to the overall safety of the area.

Any proposed dog park also would have key card access to ensure only Avondale residents can get in and out of the secure area. 

Some residents quipped that the tennis players are louder than the dogs, who would go home at dark. 

Resident Betty Jones said she's for the dog park but not any restrooms.

"I’m not against any part of dog park, but when I hear bathrooms my ears kind of perk up," Jones said. "A few commissioners ago, we had bathrooms built down by the scout hut and they were supposed to be unlocked at certain times. But it didn’t take long that toilets to have the toilets torn off wall and sinks torn up. It was nasty. I hated for our city workers to go down and clean it plus we had to pay for more equipment. ... I am for park but not for the bathrooms."

One resident said that if the dog park gets built next to his home by the bird sanctuary, he fears his afternoon naps will be disturbed since his home is 25 feet from that site.

Another resident Lisa Shortell notes that few homes back up to the location of the Willis Park site, which is near her home. 

"If you allow dogs to run around you’re going to get a lot less barking if they're on a leash or in a backyard," Shortell said. 

She cites there's noise in the area including "constant blowers" as well as from the tennis courts, swim club and park.

"Where that site is located it's pretty much away from anyone's home," she said. "Compared to the other noise we have, I don't have that much of an issue with it."

Stacy May 25, 2011 at 06:21 PM
I am also in favor of the dog park. I was impressed with the number of people at the meeting who commented in favor of the dog park and I felt that the concerns raised by the two main dissenters were adequately addressed. I agree that care needs to be taken that tax payer dollars are not wasted, but I think a dog park would be an investment in the community. Like many who spoke, I do not have kids, but I do not begrudge the money I am paying in taxes to support schools and playgrounds (including the proposal to revamp the rest of Willis Park) because those are investments in our community. Prior to moving to AE, I lived in Decatur very near the dog park at Adair when it was being built. At the time I did not have a dog so I did little more than walk by, but I heard often from friends who did have dogs about conversations they had with neighbors at the dog park. People who would likely never talk otherwise became friendly - something that would not have happened walking their dogs on sidewalks where owners tend to give each other wide berth. It was a great community builder and I believe it added to the value of my home when I sold to move to AE. I never begrudged the taxes I paid to create that dog park (or for the upkeep of the nearby playground) even though they did not directly benefit me. I counted myself lucky to live in a neighborhood that would create a space like that for it's residents - both 2-legged and 4-legged. I hope AE will, too.
Cindy Livingston May 25, 2011 at 10:37 PM
I don't really see a fair comparison between tax dollars going to educate children and building a dog park. The cost to all of us of an uneducated generation is fairly obvious. The cost to non-dog owners of an unsocialized group of dogs I don't know about. I am not excited about tax dollars going to create a dog park. The benefit to the community as a whole has yet to be proven to me. I don't object to either location if the cost is covered by volunteer funds.
Stacy May 26, 2011 at 01:07 AM
I did not limit my comments to schools and, as I said, I think there is a benefit for all of us for schools, parks, playgrounds and dog parks and I support tax dollars being used for them even if I will never utilize some of those things. They create community and make our city a better place to live. And they add value to our homes, which means even the items I don't use directly do actually benefit me in the end.
Randy Beebe May 26, 2011 at 01:15 AM
Part of living in a community is sharing. I would even consider supporting a park for parrots if a group got together and presented a reasonable need for such. What i struggle with is that we have nine pieces of children's play ground equipment in Willis Park already and the concern is that not enough tax money is going to support the kids.
Mark Timberlake May 26, 2011 at 11:48 AM
Mark Timberlake A few years ago some of us tried to get a dog park through the BOMAC and didn't get very far. We had decided that the back of Willis Park was the best, least expensive and most logical place to put the park. I am very excited about having a dog park. It will be inexpensive to build and to maintain and will add a great deal of value to our community.

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