An acre of Olympia Park along Virginia Avenue and Hallock Street will not continue to be Mount Washington‘s off-leash dog park once a new site can be developed, possibly behind the park, near trails of Emerald View Park.
Mayor Bill Peduto’s office issued a notice that a compromise site will be worked out, with no specific details as yet.
The dog park was established two years ago with advocacy from about a dozen dog owners. It quickly had opposition from nearby neighbors who said they were not consulted.
Nearby resident Robert Ariass, who has lived on Hallock for 13 years, said his beef is not that there is an off-leash exercise area but that the site is too near to homes and that those residents could have been contacted.
“We never had a chance to talk about this,” he said. “Now the city wants to take away what should not have been established in the first place.”
Most off-leash dog parks are either in remote areas, such as the South Side‘s, Lawrenceville’s and in Riverview Park. An off-leash area that is not fenced in Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side is not remote but there no residents within 50 yards of it.
Mr. Ariass said barking in the evening prevents him from having a peaceful summer evening meal on his back porch.
But dog-park denizens say the site is perfect, with a slope that drains so that there is no mud, and that commotion is not as common as detractors say it is.
“People had been using this area before” a fence was installed, said Emily Matthews, a regular visitor with her dog, Thurston, a lab-pit mix.
If the park is moved to the wooded area where trails are, she said, dogs will be exposed to broken glass and ticks. “The trail area may not be accessible to older people, too,” she said.
“Everybody who uses it loves this dog park,” said Matthew Sill, Thurston's other half. “But the mayor is a cool guy, so he‘ll probably come up with something good.”
“I moved to Mount Washington to be near a park,” said Brandon Allen, who was in the park today with Emily and Matthew, their Thurston and his German shepherd Kila. “If they move it a couple hundred yards away, I understand. But there’s more noise from the baseball field than from these dogs.”
The mayor‘s office noted that its goal is “to provide an off-leash area... that is set far enough away from residential properties to limit impacts on neighbors.”
Public Works will be studying possible sites, during which time the city will honor the current dog park’s confines.
Photo of Emily Matthews, left, Brandon Allen, center, and Matthew Sill, with dogs Thurston, left and Kila.