Arlington Residents Push Back on Proposal to Shrink Popular Dog Park

Users of a popular Virginia dog park want officials to reconsider plans to shrink it by half.

The Shirlington Dog Park is about 100,000 square feet, which is what dog owners and dog walkers love about it.

Nelson Mendes, who takes his dog, Brady, to the dog park about twice a week, says changing the size would ruin the character.

“Cutting it in half just changes it completely, makes it like any other park,” he said.

But the Arlington County Board is considering changes to accommodate state-mandated storm water drainage.

“We just want to look at other solutions that aren’t so drastic,” said Kim Houghten, owner of Wag More Dogs, one of the dog-themed businesses near the dog park.

Proposals to cut the park in half or more will cause problems,” she said.

“You’ll just be pushing those same amount of people into a smaller space and more dogs into a smaller space, which actually could be quite dangerous for the dogs,” she said.

The Arlington County Board discussed the issue Tuesday night.

“How do we trade off and balance this amazing asset and this feature that so many of us love and the environmental regulations and rules that also guide the work that we do and the visions that we create,” Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said.

A dog lover himself, he said he knows what the park means for the community.

“All board members got the message and understand what a unique and special dog park it is,” he said. “It’s not going to go away. Does it need to get modified in some form or fashion in the end? We’ll wait and see what the alternatives turn out to be.”

The public will be allowed to offer input on updated proposals in July, and a final decision will be made next year.

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