Monday, September 12, 2016

Could Woodmoor have a dog park?

Adjacent to Pine Crest Elementary School in the middle of Woodmoor, there are about 2.1 acres of unused wooded land, between the school and the backyards of homes Hillmoor Drive.  The land seems to have been empty since the neighborhood was built, and before Pine Crest was reconstructed in the 1990's.  It is not part of nearby Pinecrest Park, and it appears to be owned by MCPS.  Could part of this land be made into a dog park?

Looking towards Woodmoor Drive from the wooded area next to Pine Crest.  All photos by the author.

Occasionally, there is some kind of event on the property, such as an Easter egg hunt, but the partially wooded nature of the land makes it unusable for most types of recreation.  The sporadic trees and rolling hills make it difficult play any kind of sport, but there aren't enough trees for it to be fully wooded either (like Northwest Branch).  For these reasons, most people just use this area as a shortcut to Pinecrest Park from the front of the neighborhood, but no one spends much time on the property because there's nothing to do there.



The only noteworthy thing on this parcel is an old and buckled walkway/bridge near the edge of the park, which most Woodmoor kids assume is home to some kind of troll or monster (I know I did, since that thing looks pretty spooky).    

The spooky old bridge, which was a walkway to Pine Crest before the school was reconfigured.  

While this land goes largely unused, the neighboring Pinecrest Park is a very popular spot.  Pinecrest is a neighborhood gathering place, and all kinds of residents come to the park to socialize and enjoy the space.  While Pinecrest is great, there has been a longstanding debate in the neighborhood over unleashed dogs on the park's field.

While officially prohibited by Montgomery Parks, people have long allowed their dogs off-leash at the park to socialize with other dogs.  Most of the time there are no incidents, but occasionally an over-excited dog will accidentally knock over some kid or bite someone's soccer ball, which rekindles the debate over the role of dogs in the park.  

The field at Pinecrest Park.  

There is no public area in Woodmoor or the rest of Four Corners where dogs are officially allowed off-leash to play catch or socialize.  The nearest dog parks are in Wheaton and downtown Silver Spring, which require a car ride to access with a dog.  This leads many people to bring their dog to Pinecrest to be off-leash, which leads to the aforementioned problems.  So why not turn a portion of the area next to the park into a fenced-in dog park?  It would provide a secure place for dogs to socialize, and free up the field for people playing sports.  

         


The green shaded area above shows the potential location of a new dog park.  At 40,000 square feet, the shaded area is even bigger than the new Ellsworth Dog Park in downtown Silver Spring.  The dog park could comprise any portion of the wooded area next to the school, but I chose the part closest to Woodmoor Drive because it has larger clearings and open areas.  The back half of he property closer to the park is more heavily wooded.

A grassy area near Woodmoor Drive which is big enough for most dogs to play catch.  

To make this a park, the land would have to be transferred from MCPS to Montgomery Parks, which shouldn't be too difficult.  Even if Pine Crest Elementary is expanded in size in the coming years, there will still be plenty of space leftover in this wooded area for a dog park (the closest part of the proposed park would be ~200 feet from the school building, even farther than the rec center and playground are from the school).  Cost-wise, a very simple dog park only needs a fence with a double gate.  More infrastructure could be added, such as benches for dog owners and interactive equipment for dogs, but those aren't necessities.  Logistically, this should be an achievable goal given its low-cost.    

While not everyone with a dog would use a dog park, and some owners may still bring their dogs to the field, this idea is worth pursuing.  A dog park at this location would be an asset to the neighborhood and the broader Four Corners community. 

Woodmoor dogs like this one would benefit from a dedicated dog space.
                 

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  2. I think this would be a great idea, but the Wheaton dog park needs to be upgraded first. It was the first dog park to open in our area and is badly in need of resurfacing and having an improved water source.

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