Ann Arbor residents want dog parks within walking distance from their homes, survey finds
Ann Arbor residents want more dog parks, and they want them within walking distance from their homes, according to a new survey.
Next to cleanliness, survey respondents cited being able to walk to the park as the second most important feature in a dog park, followed by shaded areas, size and water fountains.
Parking, lighting, benches, restrooms and dog amenities — like toys and sandboxes — were lesser concerns, the survey found.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
One of the hopes is to find a more central location for dog owners in neighborhoods closer to downtown.
More than 1,500 people responded to the survey, 67.5 percent of whom said they have dogs, 26.2 percent of whom said they didn't, and 6.2 percent of whom said they were planning to get one.
Nearly 70 percent said they don't use dog parks right now, while 23.5 percent said they use Swift Run and 11.5 percent said they use Olson Park.
The survey found this:
- About 68.8 percent of respondents said they'd use a dog park either daily or weekly if it was within a quarter-mile from where they live.
- About 63.5 percent of respondents said they'd use a dog park either daily or weekly if it was between a quarter-mile and a mile from where they live.
- About 43.7 percent of respondents said they'd use a dog park either daily or weekly if it was between one and two miles from where they live.
Fewer people were willing to use a dog park more than two miles from where they live, with only 3.4 percent of respondents saying they'd use it daily, 17.9 percent saying they'd use it weekly, 29.7 percent saying they'd use it monthly and 49 percent saying they'd never use it.
A majority of people said they'd use a dog park between 4-7 p.m.
A public meeting scheduled for Tuesday night to discuss the future of dog parks in Ann Arbor has been canceled, city park officials said.
However, another public dog park meeting is still planned for 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at Cobblestone Farm, 2781 Packard Road.
The city's website also lists another dog park meeting planned for 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at Traverwood Library, 3333 Traverwood Drive.
Park officials previously identified a portion of West Park as a potential location for a new dog park just west of downtown, but the city received pushback from the New Hope Baptist Church across the street and the idea was taken off the table.
City officials also have discussed developing a dog park as part of the plan to transform a former city maintenance yard at 721 N. Main St. into a greenway park.
Some also have suggested Wurster Park off Madison Street, an idea that residents in the area have mixed feelings about. Some are lobbying for it, and others are rallying opposition.
Some survey respondents cited concerns about aggressive dogs and unsanitary conditions as reasons why they're hesitant about dog parks.
In the case of Wurster Park, some neighborhood residents said they don't want to lose areas where their children play and go sledding in the winter.
About 61.6 percent of respondents said they would support a dog park in their neighborhood park; 50.7 percent said they would support a dog park in a larger communitywide park; and 28.3 percent said they'd support them in as many places as the city would provide them.
About 24.6 percent said they don't want a dog park in certain locations and 13.8 percent said they don't want a dog park anywhere in the city.
Survey respondents suggested several neighborhood parks where they'd like to see dog parks, including Allmendinger, Bader, Beckley, Buhr, Burns, Clinton, Dolph, Esch, Fritz, Hollywood, Hunt, Lansdowne, Maryfield, Miller, Northside, Sugarbush, Sunset, Veterans, Virginia, Waterworks, West, Wheeler, Wildwood, Winchell, Windemere, Wurster, among others.
A majority of respondents said they'd volunteer to do cleaning and landscaping at a dog parks; 45.1 percent said they'd help organize events and 33.2 percent said they'd help raise funds.
The survey also gauged support for designating specific times in portions of some city parks for "off-leash hours" where dogs could run off leash without fences; 40.1 percent said they supported that, 46.1 percent said they didn't support that, and 13.8 percent were unsure.
Survey respondents indicated that having to drive out to the two existing dog parks is an obstacle for them for various reasons — either because it's too far, they don't have a car, or their dog is fearful of car rides — but they would use a dog park closer to their home.
One person wrote "they are poorly located on the fringes of town" and "driving five miles to a dog park is silly." Another wrote: "I'd like to be able to walk to the park, not have to drive to the park."
One person offered a sarcastic response to a question asking what's nice about the existing dog parks: "Swift is great because it is right next to the city dump and a really long drive from downtown, where I live. I enjoy any excuse to drive in Ann Arbor traffic."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.