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Posted on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ann Arbor officials eye West Park as location for new dog park near downtown

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor officials are responding to citizen demand and exploring the idea of creating a more centrally located dog park just west of downtown.

The city's parks staff and Park Advisory Commission members are zeroing in on West Park as the location for Ann Arbor's third off-leash playground for pooches.

For dog owners who live in or near downtown, options for off-leash recreation with their canine companions are limited right now and usually require driving to the outskirts of town.


Two canines enjoy a sunny afternoon at the Swift Run Dog Park earlier this year. By next spring there could be a new dog park near downtown Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The city has two dog parks: the 10-acre Swift Run Dog Park at Ellsworth and Platt and the smaller off-leash dog play area located at Olson Park off Dhu Varren Road.

West Park is in the middle of a neighborhood about three blocks west of Main Street and is bound by Miller, Huron, Chapin and Seventh streets.

Colin Smith, the city's parks and recreation manager, said the new off-leash dog play area city officials have in mind for West Park would be about half the size of the one at Olson Park. The idea is to fence off a grassy area just north of the entrance off Chapin Street where the city bought and demolished a house in recent years.

"We'll obviously take the feedback from neighbors into consideration," Smith said. "We've already gotten some pretty positive feedback on the idea of it."

City officials are inviting residents to learn more about the proposed dog park and give feedback at a public meeting from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 7. The meeting will take place inside a conference room on the first floor of city hall, 301 E. Huron St.

Those who cannot attend the meeting or would like additional information can contact park planner Amy Kuras at or call 734.794.6230 ext. 42590.

Smith said it wouldn't be a significant expense to create a small dog park at West Park. He said it definitely would cost less than $25,000.

"What is potentially nice about it is the site itself has some trees, so it's got some shade, which is something we've heard owners ask for at the other dog parks," Smith said. "There are also drinking fountains that have a human level and a dog level, and there's also lighting because of the parking lot, so it has a number things built in that the other locations can't or don't."

A more centrally located dog park is recommended in Ann Arbor's Parks and Recreation Open Space Plan, which was adopted by the City Council in March 2011.

In a citizen questionnaire that helped shape the PROS Plan, city officials asked about park initiatives that should be prioritized for future implementation and residents identified the need for an additional off-leash dog park, especially one more centrally located near the downtown area.

"We heard it in the PROS plan process over and over again that this was a desired amenity, and I think it's also been an interest of a number of commissioners," said PAC Chairwoman Julie Grand.

City officials said the idea of creating an off-leash dog park at West Park isn't a response to the crackdown on a weekly neighborhood "unleashed hour" where dog owners gathered on Saturdays at nearby Slauson Middle School up until they were asked by police to leave earlier this year.

Grand said PAC could vote on the project at its next meeting after getting input from residents. If it's supported by residents, she thinks it will pass through PAC easily.

"Staff seems to be behind it as well, so it's just a matter of going through the public process at this point and making sure we're not missing anything," she said.

If all goes well, Grand said she's optimistic the gates to a new dog park at West Park could be open by next spring.

Grand said PAC had a dog park subcommittee that looked into several different potential sites and recommended West Park. She said another site that's been suggested by members of the community is 721 N. Main St., a city-owned property where city officials have plans for a greenway anchor park. A large portion of the site can't be developed because it's located in a floodway.

Grand said having another off-leash dog park at 721 N. Main — even in addition to one at West Park — would be a way to activate the space, address visibility issues and "get a lot of eyes on it" if the city does put a path on the floodway portion of the site.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Pamela Bethune

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

I hope they make it bait more interesting than Swift Run by leaving taller grass.


Sun, Nov 4, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

I wish people wouldn't underestimate the civic value of people with dogs (on leashes). They are out at all hours, and often are the only eyes and ears in neighborhoods. In my neighborhood, years ago, a few dog owners agreed to change their routes to go through an unlit spot that was being used as a car-based drug exchange spot. It took less than a week for those cars to decide to go somewhere else.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

Oh, and @ DJBudSonic, re my statement that one of our Dog Parks is "halfway to Whitmore Lake:" OK, I was exaggerating –– From the south side of AA it's about 7 miles to Olson, less than 20 to Whitmore Lake HS. I was off by a little under 15%. SO: One of our Dog Parks is more than a third of the way to Whitmore Lake! And that is still NIMBY all the way! (thanks for fact-checking me!)

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

I hope the city will not be requiring permits at this new park. I also hope they reconsider the permits at the other parks. If they aren't going to enforce off leash play at regular parks but are going to enforce the permits at the local dog parks, guess what is going to happen?


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

I agree with timjbd! Socializing outside in any neighborhood is bound to make it safer. For people afraid of dogs: remember the dogs will only be off-leash inside a fenced area. I can't imagine it being an eyesore if it's done with some input from regular dog-park users. Olson park is part of a large mixed use park and it works well. A soccer field is on one side, a basketball court on the other, walking and bike trails, a pavilion and a large pond for bird watching, etc. I don't know why people are saying there is no enforcement, there was someone checking for permits almost daily at Olson Park from Parks and Rec.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:43 a.m.

@ Vivienne A, re: "You've made my point." Either that, or you've made mine. Instead of fighting against dog parks, and trying to banish them to "... one of the larger parks more on the edge of the city," let's face reality, and the community's real needs. If, as you say, that dog park might be "shown to be too small," well, then, obviously we need more real estate, closer in, don't we?. So if you don't want a West Park location, it would probably be a good idea to hammer out a list of a half-dozen larger, and more appropriate (in your opinion) Near-West-Side locations. As for, "It requires fencing and policing and is simply not a place one would picnic, have a ball game, or look for wildflowers," I think you're safe there –– no one is trying to force the general population to picnic inside the dog park fence... although rest assured, there will be plenty of coffee, donuts, and bagels consumed there by the happy dog owners! But I don't agree with you at all that "a dog park is not suited to multiuse parks." Timjbd put it best: "Any excuse to get more people to regularly use parks is positive! Dog parks get users at all hours and having more eyes on the streets and in parks at all hours is THE way to ensure safe neighborhoods. Guarantee this will be popular and the benefits will be more than expected."


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 10:42 p.m.

In Washington, DC and NYC there are numerous small doggie "pocket parks." Dogs big and small seem to love them. They don't need much space to get a good run in. And they are not noisy (or smelly) particularly. If there are coffee shops nearby, the parks tend to be real hangouts for people and their dogs sipping their lattes and socializing. Any excuse to get more people to regularly use parks is positive! Dog parks get users at all hours and having more eyes on the streets and in parks at all hours is THE way to ensure safe neighborhoods. Guarantee this will be popular and the benefits will be more than expected.

Dan Ezekiel

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

Boston has them too, and I found them fun for dogs, and people too, when I visited.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

I am very familiar with the small dog parks in NYC. They work out very well and are lots of fun. The dogs are able to run around just fine in the smaller parks. The only issue is the surface of the park. It can't be grass but there are many other options.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

I thought we wanted to be like Boulder , Co not DC or NYC!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

There are usually also other people sitting on benches outside the parks with their coffee watching the dogs run around. It's very soothing. Like watching a fish tank.

Basic Bob

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

Last time I went to West Park they had a cross country meet for all five middle schools, not enough parking for parents, and a cop writing tickets. They make it a skate park, dog park, graffitti park, or a needle park, I'm staying away.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Like the idea but folks already walk around their with dogs unleashed. I have a dog who does not like other dogs - as long as the unleashing is in the restricted area. Folks must pick up - the other parks i have been at in other cities made it clear, provided a lot of cans and some bags - other owners left bags for others to use


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

I'm all for a fenced in dog park downtown, but only if it is large enough for the dogs to run and play. The idea that a small dog park would be good for socializing, but not running, is ridiculous. The dog park needs to be big or it's useless.

Unusual Suspect

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

The problem is this is going to make the Slauson Scofflaws think they accomplished something by breaking the law over there. To add that sense of power to the already arrogant Old West Siders is dangerous.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

you're funny.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

If it will keep the dog owners from walking their dogs OFF the leash in my neighborhood I'm all for it!

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

Which of course, it won't.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

I have to say that I agree with bushwhacked (and Vivienne A.) that the proposed area is too small. But as for, "... it'd be a huge mess of dog waste intermixed with mud," the Ann Arbor Dog Park experiment just doesn't support that: As ArgoC says, "Visiting the Swift Run park, I have been very surprised at how little dog poop is left lying around." That was the case at Slauson as well. Rusty Fuller won the battle, but lost the war, when he called for police enforcement of a "No Dogs" rule –– the end result was that they chased out the best clean-up crew they ever had! But the "perfect" is the enemy of the "good enough for now," and too small beats nothing at all. Let's get our foot in the door, and work from there.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

You've made my point. My fear is that if the dog park is installed, and is shown to be too small, there will then be pressure to expand it until West Park is severely impacted. This park has recently had a lot of money invested in it and has the potential to be a great urban park. We don't want an expanding fenced one-use area imposed on it.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

I question why it would cost $25,000. Its indicated that there is already water, lighting, etc on site. The size of this park seems really small, besides putting up a fence, what is the cost. I fence can't cost $25,000 for this small of size, unless of course we need some public art to go along with the fence.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

Great idea. I hope they include, in their plans, the ability to move the footprint of the fenced area every year or two to allow the dog-worn area to recover. Visiting the Swift Run park, I have been very surprised at how little dog poop is left lying around. I used to be concerned about that.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

In NYC, the smaller dog parks are well drained and use pea gravel as a surface. It is very durable and holds up to a lot of use.

Unusual Suspect

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

No, you get to keep the area you run down. Nobody else wants your rundown dog park mud.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

The area discussed is the size of a standard city lot: 50 x 120 at best. IMO way too small to be effective area to let a dog run. it's at best twice the size of someone's backyard which would be ok for 2-3 dogs, so doubling the size and jamming 20- 30 dogs on it? Not a good idea. I wouldn't take my dog in there... it'd be a huge mess of dog waste intermixed with mud. Bad idea. That's like the city pouring a cement slab the size of a small driveway, placing a basketball hoop at one end and calling it a basketball court. come on Ann Arbor, if you're going to offer a dog park, make it big enough to be useful or do nothing and let things stay as they are: covert off-leash dog runs.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

NYC has a lot of dog parks that are around the size of this proposed dog park. They actually work well even though they aren't as large as many other parks. They do get a bit crowded and see a lot of use so the ground can't be grass because it wears out. In NYC, they use pea gravel and it works well. I once saw a similar sized park in Seattle with woodchips but I think the pea gravel is a better surface. The point is that even small parks can work and there are lots of real world examples of successful smaller dog parks.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 3 p.m.

Unusual Suspect...of course we want it to be fenced in..but a middle school yard would do nicely.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

@Usual Suspect- I have a small dog that I keep in my city sized backyard and I think it's an appropriate size for one dog, or even two. My point is that a small dog pen at the park doesn't offer much to anyone, as in "why bother?" I think it's a waste of money... $25,000 so our dogs can run 'one lap' for every two they can run in most city yards? seems like a waste of money. I'm not asking for space to begin with, but if it's going to be done, do it right and make it big enough so that it get's used. I'll also say that a dog 'off leash' can be managed as well as one 'on leash' if the owner puts in the necessary time to properly train the dog to obey simple commands. i'm always amazed at how much feedback receives when they run an article on the controversial topic of "dogs". And what's wrong with good old fashioned respect and 'mind your own business'? I would bet that we've generated more legislation around dogs in the past 40 years than all combined legislation from the time that dogs became domesticated. Seriously... before all the laws (and gripping they've generated), were dogs in the city an incredible nuisance? I doubt it.

Unusual Suspect

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

It's never enough is it? These people just won't be satisfied unless they get a whole middle school playground with no fences and no rules. If it's not enough space for you, I suggest you move out to the country and buy a few acres.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

@ Vivienne Armentrout, re: "I predict that this will be an eyesore that detracts from the park (which is supposed to be a jewel of a park for our downtown area)..." Why do you think it will be an eyesore? On the contrary, since it will be a magnet, it will do wonders for that park, which the city gave up on for so long that it is almost impossible to salvage. What West Park needs is people using it! That is the only thing that will bring it back to the level of popularity that it had when I was a kid. And if it is too small, Vivienne, how about using some of your not-insubstantial influence to help create a decent-sized one? Lobbying in favor of doing nothing because it will be too small is moving in the wrong direction.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

Actually, Vivienne, I think the spot they are proposing to use would have little visual effect on the whole park. It's already segmented from the rest of the park by the driveway and the parking lot. If the line of already established trees that borders the parking lot stays (and it should), you will barely be able to see it from the rest of the park. I'd argue that those most affected by the Chapin Street view will be the opposite neighbours - New Hope Baptist Church and a private owner. While I can't speak for the Church, I am the other neighbour :) I like the current view, and trust me I know there will be occasional times that barking from there annoys me. I don't personally have a dog. However, the spot is really dysfunctional as an active part of the park. It's physically separated, and a pretty deep trench runs around the edge (which always surprises people who cut across the grass, and they can't get onto the drive without jumping). It would be great to have this type of facility for the area. I do agree that a larger area would be more suitable for a "run", but as the area is already so clearly defined I don't share your concern that it would spread. Overall, I'm for it.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

Vivienne - I often agree with your statements or at least can follow your logic but on this one it sound like your grasping at straws. The proposed dog park is going to be where a house used to be - I'm confident that was far more disruptive to your "visual sweep" than the dog park's fence. And the adjacent neighborhoods can definitely use a dog park they can walk to. Many on the near west side live here so that we don't have to start up a car every time we want to do something.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

West Park was originally designed by members of the Olmsted family - I'm not sure actually by Frederick Law Olmstead - but it is one of the most beautiful parks in Ann Arbor in terms of layout and sweep. (I use a photo of it as the header on my blog). If I understand what is proposed, it would be a fenced area at one end. This has the possibility of being a visual obstacle to the overall sweep of the park. Expanding the small area proposed would be even more deleterious. One problem is that we essentially have no large parks adjacent to the downtown. West Park and Fuller Park are the only ones in the Central Area. Here is a map. Most of the parks in the Central area are heavily used and a dog park is not suited to multiuse parks. It requires fencing and policing and is simply not a place one would picnic, have a ball game, or look for wildflowers. I don't have a good solution but I think if this is needed, one of the larger parks more on the edge of the city, but perhaps closer than the current parks, would be a better choice.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

@ Tesla, re: "whats wrong with just takin the dog to any old park or playground? Is there some law against that?" It has been 35 years since you could do that legally here in Ann Arbor. After an aggressive compliance campaign to get the point across, the city more and more took on a "No Harm, No Foul," attitude (especially after budget cuts eliminated Animal Control officers!). The weekly Slauson Dog Party was an example of that "No Harm, No Foul," attitude, until Pete Cunningham's cutesy ruined it for everybody, by shining a spotlight on it. Many of us, myself included, would be happy to return a bit more to the way things were back in the '70s –– although everybody likes the "Stoop And Scoop" part of the leash law –– but that is just not going to happen. The leash law is here to stay. So we need Dog Parks. It's as simple as that.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

hmsp Darn Pete. Shining a light on the law breakers! Whats next giving a description of a thief? I would be happy to return to the 70's! Because everyone did not have 3 dogs then!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

@ whojix, re: "Owning dogs while living in the city is irresponsible." I'll say it again: "Unless these NIMBYs want to outlaw all dogs, dogs WILL be exercised inside the city limits, and no amount of online ranting will change that." So what is your plan?


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

I don't think anyone who picks up animal feces by (bare?) hand has had much doggy experience. Trust me, think "baggies."


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

Like I said before. Pepper spray!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

Continue living well. I won't be picking up animal feces with my hand or be hated by my neighbors for animal noise.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

@ johnls, re: "rouge poo," I keep tellin' 'em to stop feeding their dogs beets!

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Why create an off-leash park when there is no enforcement of existing leash laws?

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

Because even in an environment of no enforcement, people still generally will choose places to exercise their dog where they are less likely to have to deal with people who hate dogs. The dog park will give people more of a standing when they complain about off-leash dogs in the other parks. They can say "go to the dog park, it is right there!". Plus once you have a place where dogs gather regularly, it becomes a magnet for other dog owners. In places where I have been where there have been even small dog parks contained within larger parks, almost everyone uses the dog park. This is true even in places where leash laws are not enforced well.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

[Insert unrelated troll comment about: Downtown Art; New Library Proposal; New Parking Structure; A2 Government]


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

Owning dogs while living in the city is irresponsible. There are sacrifices with living anywhere, it's not my problem if you made a bad choice.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

I know a lot of these *irresponsible* city slickers who figure a dog might be happier, albeit in a city-size family home and yard, than in even the kindliest shelter. I'm one of them.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

wow! did you think of how many dogs are in ann arbor. many and many. so i guess we have lots and lots of irresponsible people living in ann arbor. maybe you are talking about the art commission.?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Not if you give your dog exercise. We have to pay high health care costs for fat people, that is much more concerning issue than dog parks.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

Sounds like a good idea to me! (...but will have to confirm that the size is reasonable). A simple, low cost project to to address something that many have been requesting. This will also help reduce complaints about off-leash dogs and finding rouge poo at the park. For those concerned about the cost (<25K), sometimes in a community money is spent on things that you will not use personally; a library, a playground, a school, public transit, etc. This is a drop in the bucket. Plus I imagine the dog license/usage fees will cover much of the cost, so it's really a non-issue.

Linda Diane Feldt

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

If you don't really understand how a dog park works, or haven't seen one in action, I strongly suggest you make the (long) drive out to Swift Park. You'll see a select group of owners (willing to pay the fee to use the park, and having agreed to rules and regulations) standing around watching their dogs happily play and run. You'll see owners pointing out any missed poop pick ups - and making sure everyone cleans up. You'll see many owners patrolling for and picking up other dog's poop because no one wants to step in it. You'll see dogs rolling around, chasing, and "bad" behavior being chastised by the dogs and by the owners. You'll hear some barking and growls, but not much. Most of it is excited vocalizations. Swift Run has not deteriorated in the 5 or 6 years it has been heavily used. It is nicer today than it was when I first went out there, five years ago. Dogs who are walking up to the double gates are very excited and very happy because they LOVE being there. Almost universally, they are focused on getting in and starting to play. My dog starts to whine when we are still at Packard and Platt. Dog parks are a great thing for socializing dogs, making them better behaved on walks and interacting with dogs and people anywhere else. Dog parks are great exercise - a tired dog is more likely to be a good dog. Dog parks are great networking and reinforcing opportunities for owners. Talking to dog trainers, getting ideas about how to work out problems, just like parents do at playgrounds. Go and see. My first visit to a dog park was thrilling - to see dogs being happy, well behaved, running and playing. Being dogs. And nearly every interaction worked out. My dog gained confidence and absolutely gained social skills she needed. These parks really do work well, and contribute immensely to the community. With the money and time and space devoted to playgrounds, golf, tennis, and more, having a tiny corner of a park to do what we love isn't really asking for mu

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

@StopCrying No one checks to make sure your dogs are licensed or that you've paid the fee.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Agreed. I did go to Swift Run to see how it works. Very little poop on the ground (actually, I never saw any, but I have to assume there's some). Very little dog noise, but quite a lot of human vocalization, often of the baby-talk kind. Parts of the grass are worn, but it'll grow back. Altogether a bit of an eye-opener for me.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

Linda Diane, you make some good points. I was on the dog park committee for the parks commission many years ago. The feeling was that the liability was too high for the city and the city couldn't afford to take the risk. The city legal dept. was quite adamant about this. I don't know what has changed, legally speaking but now we have 2 dog parks w/ the possibility of a third and a fourth one. So far no lawsuits, let's hope that continues. As for Ms. Grand talking about having no trouble putting 2 new dog parks in my neighborhood, it makes no sense to me to put 2 dog parks in the same neighborhood.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

Is there anyone that actually patrols to confirm if the fee has been paid or does it only become an issue if there is some sort of incident?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

Why are specific dog parks necessary at all? Maybe I am ill informed but whats wrong with just takin the dog to any old park or playground? Is there some law against that?

Linda Diane Feldt

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

There are indeed laws against off leash dogs in the city. The advantage of the dog park is that owners that are willing to pay the $45 or more a year to be there have also provided health certificates and agree to rules and to be responsible. The place is fenced and safe. There won't be kids suddenly wandering in, or people who don't want to be near an unleashed dog. The people within the park are interested in and more likely to have well socialized dogs. For me there are only positives. I don't let my dog run of leash ever unless on private fenced property - and the Ann Arbor dog parks. She loves the dog parks.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

still have not addressed the cats. the ones that people let outside to run the neighborhood.

Dog Guy

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Tesla, loose cats address those pesky squirrels and rabbits and birds in my yard, but do not eat what they kill. I would prefer that the cats killed the chipmunks which undermine my basement and retaining walls.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

Tesla yup except they are out all day and do not have a home. a home that people should keep the city cats inside!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

and those pesky squirrels and rabbits and birds and renegade mosquitos. It's anarchy!!!! Lets address those too! ayiyiyiyi


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

I'm a dog owner in town and I'd love to see a dog park in West Park that owners could walk to. I pay dog license fees, dog park permit fees and I also pay property taxes that support parks that allow skateboarding, mountain biking, playground equipment for kiddies, and even disc golf. Why do anti-dog park people think dog lovers are so undeserving of watching their dogs run and play? My property taxes pay for the schools, I don't have kids, and the bus service, which I support but don't use. Our taxes are for the community, whatever our needs are.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Thank you. I always enjoy the "it doesn't benefit me" folks who jump all over issues like this...until you point out that things that may benefit them, don't always benefit others. I hope the park goes through, and is modified to be a reasonable size area.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

wait a license fees? Dog park permit fee's? What am I missing? You pay someone for a license plate for your dog and the privilege of taking him on property you pay for? Seriously? Where do you live? Russia?

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

With the approximate $100 million total cost of the new library project, I am surprised it does not reserve significant space for "dog daycare", and "dog grooming". Or does it?


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

^^ and this irrelevant comment


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

^and this irrelevant comment.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Why is this irrelevant comment not deleted?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

now i know why they put up new art in west park. for the dogs and cats.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

golfer, I must be missing something. to what art are you referring?

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

Splendid idea!!!! You can then hang the little baggies on those orange "trees." Yahoo. I don't even own a dog and I think the idea is brilliant.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

To the whiners like DJBud, Look we dog owners are REQUIRED to pay for and have licenses on our dogs that last three years. The City recently is looking a tough enforcement of this. I have three licensed dogs at $45.00. Do you know what we get for that?? NOTHING! I have to pay separately to use a dog park! Licensing my dogs gets me nothing, zip. You could say I get help locating my dogs if they get lost (Yeah. On a weekend? Who is at City Hall to look up my records?) What I don't get is a huge fine IF my dogs ever got loose which they don't. Who are the people who get listened to in Ann Arbor; BIKE RIDERS! They have all the pull necessary to get special lanes, crosswalks, road reductions from two lanes to one and they still ride their bikes like complete idiots, no two ever following the same rules. Some act like cars & make left turns in the left turn lanes while others at the same intersection get on the sidewalk and follow the pedestrian signals. Any enforcement? NONE! Far too many zip through an intersection and NEVER check for a right turning vehicle but you are sat fault if you hit them. No, Bud, the bike riders rule. Dog owners are blamed for any piece of poop around. Take a look at the Geese!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

dfossil Just as was indicated by Sonic ANY law that is NOT enforced is useless!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

dfossil When they start enforcing ANY law or ordinance concerning dogs I will apologize! But that enforcement won't ever happen.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.

To JCJ, read the following in by putting this into the "search" section above: "Washtenaw County considers civil infractions ordinance to enforce dog licenses" then you can apoligize.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

Stating facts is not whining. If there is dog crap in the school yards, who should we blame? The dogs, who are the responsibility of their owner. All of us pay for plenty of things we don't use, or don't see the value in. Have you checked building permit and inspection fees lately? Used to be you had to have a license for a bicycle in Ann Arbor, and you could get your bike impounded without one. But, just like the leash and license laws, lack of enforcement renders them all but useless. All that is left is the money collecting and paperwork. I lost all my street parking to the bike lanes, you will get no sympathy from me for bikers, and I helped found the UM bike team 20 some years ago. I agree many of them ride like maniacs. In the old bike license days, I once got a moving violation ticket on my track bike for "failing to come to a complete stop at a 4 way stop" which was thrown out when I did a 2 minute track stand in traffic court. But to get to the point: people have a bad opinion of dogs and dog owners because we step in the results too often, just like you apparently have a bad opinion of bikers because you see them riding like idiots too often. I don't know anyone who likes the geese.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

"Look we dog owners are REQUIRED to pay for and have licenses on our dogs that last three years. The City recently is looking a tough enforcement of this." Who you trying to kid? Like they enforce the leash law? I don't mind someone TRYING to pull the wool over my eyes. But when they EXPECT me to believe it that's going too far! Talk about a whiner!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

Great post fossil, you hit the nail on the head on both fronts.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

Good call. Never should have been out at Swift. Should do one at Gallup park too in line with other needed upgrades to Gallup. What about an ice skating area at one of these parks? Comon City Parks, be creative and bring people together.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

I predict that this will be an eyesore that detracts from the park (which is supposed to be a jewel of a park for our downtown area), without at all satisfying the perceived needs of the dog owners. If I had a dog, I would want a place that it would be free to run and investigate things, not a tiny fenced-in run. I suspect that what will happen is that the unleashed dog activity will simply expand to the rest of the park, degrading the experience of the many others who use the park. Where are the Friends of West Park in this?


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Vivienne, I AM a friend of West Park. while i agree with you that a tiny fenced-in area is not the best-case scenario, many times I have seen unleashed dogs happily running around the park and it in no way degrades the times i have spent there. Indeed, it adds to it. Hardly an eyesore!

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

I am a member of the "Friends of West Park" and I officially sanction the dog park, provided little plenty of plastic baggies and trash trash receptacles are provided to remove the feces. I'd rather see a dogs and their happy owners in the park rather then no one.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Why not make the top of the new Library Parking Lot a new dog park? Great idea--close to downtown, more green space and...we wouldn't have to worry about a conference center. It's a win-win.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

"Officials are responding to citizen demand"..Since when? I guess you have to own a dog to get yourself heard in this town. The school nearest my house always has dogs running free, and you can always count on finding piles of crap. Will more dedicated dog parks somehow reduce this behavior? Not likely.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

This gives me an idea... we should start Neighborhood Poop Watch. The city has dropped the ball so it's time to get out, patrol, and make some citizens arrests as honorary Poop Cops. But in seriousness, people that do not clean up after their dogs do piss me off. They're $h!*...and they give decent, responsible dog owners a bad name.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

I have lived right next to West park for seven years, and I have never seen a baseball game being played there. However, almost every day I walk past, I see a dog owner illegally playing ball with his/her dog on the diamond. Can we please meet Ann Arbor residents' actual needs, please?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

you got new ART from the art commission be happy


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Good point Floyd.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

Good to see the city actually addressing this problem. Last time, they really wimped out, buckling under to NIMBY pressure: One of our "city" dog parks is practically an Ypsi address, and the other is halfway to Whitmore Lake. Get real! And a lot of the negative and NIMBY comments seem to assume that if there is no dog park, there will be no dogs. Yet at the same time they complain about inappropriate use of our parks. Where is the logic there? Provide some dog parks –– this one will be just a start, and the inappropriate use of other areas will go down. Unless these NIMBYs want to outlaw all dogs, dogs WILL be exercised inside the city limits, and no amount of online ranting will change that. The city's decision to finally deal with the situation is long overdue.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Halfway to Whitmore Lake? Are you serious?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

My pepper spray will help!

Peter Baker

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

Love it. It will be great to have a dog park that you don't have to drive to.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

We agree on something. :)


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Wait a minute...I thought roving gangs of street toughs peddling their "reefers"and "goofballs" had overtaken West Park? Has this menace been eradicated?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

With how much people that are moving into town it would make sense to have a dog park at every school. Even if you weren't allowed to used it during the school year. During the summer the school playgrounds are empty. If they can find room at vets park for a skateboard park they can find room for a dog park. What about where they tore down that hotel on Jackson @ 94, does the city own that?

Jonathan Blutarsky

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

Ron - Dogs might not pay taxes but their owners do. Just like children don't pay taxes but their parents and EVERY tax payer supports them.

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

The skate park is for people who pay taxes. Dogs do not pay taxes.

Tom Joad

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

West Park is a major thoroughfare. I ride my bike, walk and run through there daily. Also a lot of children use the recreational equipment. Already many dog owners use the park and baseball field as an off-leash dog run despite it being illegal. I'm opposed to a dog park there as it would detract from the peaceful nature of the park as it currently is. The city should do more to enforce the leash law against scofflaws. Also, when events are held at the Band Shell I've encountered many drivers who use the pedestrian/bike path as a parking lot. Only authorized vehicles should use that path. It's not a courtesy parking spot just because an event is held. You park on 7th St and WALK.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Wonderful idea! I love it!!

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

The way it was described to me by city officials, it will be pretty small and it will be more of a socialization space than a get-out-and-run exercise space. I suggest any dog owners interested in using this park as an exercise space for their canines to attend the public meeting 6:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at city hall and voice those concerns.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

This is a ridiculous statment: " . . . it will be pretty small and it will be more of a socialization space than a get-out-and-run exercise space." The purpose of a dog park is for dogs to run and exercise. If the proposed dog park is too small for that, then I'm against it.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Good idea! The 2 parks would also support the plans to have more people living downtown. Lots of people have dogs, now they won't mind buying properties IN TOWN.

Dog Guy

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Now we'll have to train the dogs to use those silly looking orange trees in West Park.

rusty shackelford

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Use the baseball field when there are no games going on. The rest of the park, no. Though judging by people walking around with their dogs in this town, many consider the entire city a 'no leash' area.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

Yikes I've played on enough diamonds around this town to be disgusted by un-collected pet waste. Dogs should have a space, but not directly overlapping a space used by kids or adults.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

"For dog owners who live in or near downtown, options for off-leash recreation with their canine companions are limited right now and usually require driving " Yep, just like most everyone else who uses the dog parks. They drive there.


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Ryan "I know from talking to many dog owners that it isn't exactly convenient for a lot of these busy grad school types and young professionals" Heaven forbid these "types" would be inconvenienced. Maybe they should concentrate on their studies and professions!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

Sorry to disappoint you, but there was no attempt at "cleverness". Thanks for reading, though. This is just part of the larger question of adding infrastructure to support those who want to live downtown, possibly without cars, and to what extent the rest of the city should be expected to support that "vision". The most recent figures I saw indicated that less than 5% of the population lives downtown. That needs to be kept in perspective.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Brad, you've cleverly left off the end of the sentence. The story says "driving to the outskirts of town," not just simply "driving." With traffic, getting out to Swift Run can be a 15/20-minute drive some days from near downtown, and I know from talking to many dog owners that it isn't exactly convenient for a lot of these busy grad school types and young professionals who live near downtown and have dogs and, in some cases, don't even have cars. Providing a walkable destination will be a major improvement for this demographic.

Go Blue

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

"The idea is to fence off a grassy area just north of the entrance off Chapin Street where the city bought and demolished a house in recent years." That would mean the size is probably the usual lot size for a house in the city and less than a quarter acre. If read correctly, that's the size of the park being proposed and not 5 acres. Hmmm, charge a fee to use? Interesting, maybe fees should be charged for children to use playgrounds and anyone using other areas offered throughout the city. Oh wait, I thought our taxes paid for that?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

I agree that half the size of Olsen is likely insufficient. I bet the demand will be high, and space will be tight. Still, some space is better than no space. Doggies gotta run!

David Briegel

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

How about putting this park at one of those green belt acquisitions out in the country? NOT in West Park!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

dave we got brand new art in west park. how can people see it unless they take the dog. maybe the dogs will like the art.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

West Park sits empty most of the time. Why not use it as a dog park? I mean honestly. Why not?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

Brilliant Idea David! There is hope for you.

working poor @ u of m

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Excellent idea!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 2 p.m.

But then people might have to - gasp! - drive there.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

If the link to Olson Park is accurate, the dog "run" there looks to be about 100 ft. by 200 feet. If the one at West Park will be half that size then it is obviously very small. Judging by the number of people who were meeting at Slauson, the new park would not be big enough to allow many dogs. Too many of anything in a small space can cause problems, whether it is dogs or humans.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

I'm pretty sure it's bigger than that--my yard is an almost an acre it's definitely almost twice or three times bigger than my yard.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5 p.m.

to the right of the bigger parking lot. I guess it is so small you can't see it easily.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

I followed the link to Olson Park and can't find a "dog run" area on the map - where is it located?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

With the city's secret plan to house 100,000 more downtown residents in highrise buildings there will likely be a need for a local pet exercise arena (although anyone choosing to live in an expensive cement cell for the same cost of a nice country home probably does't have any mammalian friends). Someone already noted the number of wild dogs now running the defunct Glen-Ann corner lot so a pet park there would be a natural. The Con-Ed property is already so poluted a lttle more runoff from that site probably won't disuade the uptownies from visiting (the whitewater touristas don't need to know nothing). Maybe even include a little doggie deli stand for those new upwardly mobile elevator breeds that have to eat and run. Clearly what the city will need quite soon is a Central Park.


Sun, Nov 4, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

wild dogs? what?

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Will there be user fees at this park to cover the cost of the special-use?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Not everyone who uses the dog parks have their dogs licensed. Yes, they are supposed to, but they do not. And it's rarely enforced or checked. It's more of an "on your honor" system.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

Is there a fee at the city's tennis courts to cover special-use?

Linda Diane Feldt

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

I got that slightly wrong - there is a discount for spayed and neutered dogs. I paid $45. I'm happy to pay the fee to support the dog parks. It is worth it and helps have better socialized dogs.

Linda Diane Feldt

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

Yes, there is a fee to receive a tag that allows admission, as well as the regular dog license fee. I paid $60 to be able to use both dog parks, and that is for a calendar year. You must have the special tag and have a licensed dog to use the dog park. That also requires proof of vaccination and health, and being spayed or neutered.

Sara White

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

Half the size of Olson park? That's already too small, what's even the point?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

I'm sorry, you're right. The article states that swift run is 10 acres. Not Olson park.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

5 acres isn't enough for your dog to run around? There isn't a house in the city limits that has 5 acres. Sounds like you need to move into the country with your dog.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

Better to fence off the fountain then the dogs have a target and that $750.000 would have something flowing on it ...


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 10:37 a.m.

Great idea! However, there will be irresponsible people who will not clean up after their pet and or will bring an un-neutered dog ( who tend to show aggression and over dominance). Hopefully all pet owners will monitor their dogs play!


Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

"Bringing an aggressive dog is the owner's problem . . ." I would suggest that is not the only possibility. And true, neutering is not a (legal) requirement here, but a darn good idea.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

Why don't you wait until a problem actually occurs before you complain about it.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

I haven't personally had such experiences when I lived in Chicago. Often, bags are provided to owners at the park. Additionally, it's not a requirement to neuter one's dog. Bringing an aggressive dog is the owner's problem, and can best be dealt with when other dog owners bring up aggressive behavior to the aggressive dog's owner.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 10:25 a.m.

Good Idea


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

I would request that if there are more dog parks that people keep their dogs on leash when in a neighborhood or in a park but not in the dog park area. Leash laws are there for a reason. let's all cooperate and follow the law.