Dog Park’s a “Done Deal” at NewCourtland

The new owners of the old “EPPI” property aims to include off-leash play space in upcoming renovations. (A community garden, too!)

 

East Falls Community Council president Bill Epstein was bursting with “exciting news” Monday night — that a dog park and community garden were “a done deal” with NewCourtland, owners of the old “EPPI” property at Scott’s Lane and the railroad crossing.

Further, Council’s submitted sketch plans from the last time a dog park was considered for East Falls.

Community Council hasn’t held a public dog park meeting since February 2015. Behind the scenes, though, they’ve pulled some strings for us all. GOOD JOB, GUYS! East Falls has been clamoring for a dog park for years, thank you for listening.

Nothing’s been signed yet, of course, but this is very promising news. As we look forward more details from Council, we’re hoping plans proceed with fairness and transparency.

EF Dog Park’s Facebook group has over 300 members — many of whom have donated funds & attended years of meetings. Lots of us are eager to be involved in new efforts, and we should be. As dog owners who will actually be using the park, we have good info to share about our needs, habits, and expectations.

Not that we’re being ignored, exactly — but neighbors we’ve talked with expressed disappointment that EFCC reached out to NewCourtland without a heads up to Committee members, or reporting on developments afterwards. What’s with the behind-the-scenes stuff? What’s going on now?

To get the ball rolling, we’re kicking it to East Falls Forward — a local “Registered Community Organization” like EFCC.  EFF’s relaxed, informative meetings help make local politics accessible — and transparent — for all neighbors with online surveys & voting.  Today, over 350 members weigh in on local issues like zoning, events, new business and…. dog parks!

As an RCO, EFF will be asked to provide input on zoning variances for a dog park here — and technically really should be a part of the planning process by this point anyway. So EFF secretary (and EFL co-editor) Steve Fillmore reached out to Bob Thiel from New Courtland’s Planning & Logistics team, who confirmed they’ve been meeting with EFCC.

He stressed, though, that they’re seeking input from the whole neighborhood before moving forward:

“Once we get to the point where we have the plan in place for the entire site, we will engage the community  about how a dog park can fit in. …This is something we see as very doable on the site and we hope to be able to make it work.”

YAY!!!!  NewCourtland’s site is such an ideal location. First, there’s parking and plus the area is quite far from residential housing (which had been a big concern for the last location). Further, as a provider of senior services, NewCourtland would attract therapy dogs and rescues — services that dovetail well with the needs of dog park users.

And seniors, too, could benefit by just watching happy dogs play. Studies repeatedly show that being around pets lifts moods, lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity, helps sharpen the mind…

Some lingering questions, though, would concern dog park use on private property. For instance, when is it open? Is it free? If there’s a charge, where does the money go? Does my dog need to be licensed or present vet records..? Who is checking? Shouldn’t we reach out to bordering communities & get them involved or maybe head off any potential tensions?

Lots to consider, guys, looks like it’s…. SURVEY TIME!!!

Fill out my online form.

Let’s get all our input out in the open to create the best possible dog park for our diverse community. Results here will be posted online and presented to New Courtland, EFCC and EFF for consideration in further planning.

For more information, come out to EFF’s free neighborhood mixer/meeting this Thursday night, December 15 from 6:30 to 8:30ish. Bonus points for wearing a seasonal sweater — it’s our Holiday party, after all. Very casual agenda including dog park discussion. Hope you can swing by!

One Comment

  • Morgan

    Bill Epstein is a hero!

    Just in time…. I’m actively looking for another house in East Falls. That’s right y’all. I’m coming back to terrorize the neighborhood.

    See you around!

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