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Dog Park Proposal

September 11, 2020 :: Latest News

[9/12/20 update: The Board of Directors has been asked by the proposal spokesperson to change the project’s name from “dog park” to “dog playground.” The Board’s understanding is that a “playground” typically includes facilities for recreation, though, and no recreation facilities are mentioned in the proposal. Nonetheless, the reader may wish to substitute the word “playground” for “park” in the following article.]

As you may have heard, the Foxfield Board of Directors has been asked by a group of residents to review and approve a written proposal to construct a dog park on Foxfield common area. Two potential sites have been identified: one on the pipeline lawn in the area behind Custom House Court, Keefer Court, and Mazewood Lane townhouses near the existing tot lot playground, and the other in the area behind Willoughby Point Lane houses and the Stringfellow Road tennis courts. The Board has been gathering opinions from the owners whose backyards would be closest to the two sites, and interested members of the community have been talking to residents and distributing flyers. The pipeline dog park would be roughly the size of 40 townhouse units; the tennis court park would be smaller.

Proponents of the dog park assert the following benefits:

– It will bring the Foxfield community closer together by allowing dog owners to socialize with each other at the park.

– It will bring the Foxfield and Franklin Glen communities closer together by allowing them to socialize with each other at the park.

– There are many dog owners in Foxfield and surrounding communities who could benefit.

– Enhanced social unity among dog owners will cause property values to increase. Dog owners communicate with each other regularly.

– It will make the community more desirable to potential new owners.

– Dog owners almost always pick up trash in the neighborhood while walking their dogs.

– Dogs and their owners live longer when they socialize and are able to exercise regularly.

– A fenced-in dog park would allow dog owners to unleash their dogs without being cited and fined by animal control authorities.

The Foxfield Board has the following concerns:

– The construction cost is unknown. According to the proposal, initial costs for the park and some but not all of the requested amenities at the pipeline location range from $9,000 to over $28,000, depending on the park’s exact size and the number of amenities included in the estimate. The proposal does not include any estimates for building at the Stringfellow Road tennis court site, which has a significantly different and more challenging terrain.

– Foxfield’s insurance company will not offer liability coverage to Foxfield if non-residents are able to use the park; there is no plan to exclude non-residents.

– A new dog waste collection station and multiple seating benches are envisioned, but only the most expensive estimate includes these amenities.

– The proposal calls for multiple dog watering stations, but the cost of installing new underground plumbing pipes far from any existing water lines is not included in any of the estimates.

– Foxfield would incur attorney fees to create new policies and signage, but legal costs are unstated.

– The enclosed lawn area would sustain continuous trampling, digging, and urine damage, creating the need for ongoing reseeding and repair programs and watering; lawn repair costs are unstated. [9/21/20 update: The Board notes this FAQ regarding dog parks in the city of Columbus, OH, for example.]

– The costs of actually operating a park are unstated. In addition to lawn repair and maintenance, ongoing expenses would include the costs of new dog waste bags, dog waste station emptying, garbage can servicing, flea and tick control, parasite control, winterizing the watering stations and plumbing pipes, etc.

– Foxfield would need to purchase an engineering study for the pipeline company to analyze before they would grant permission to build a park on top of their pipes; the cost of this study is unstated.

– If a park is constructed on the pipeline and the pipeline company later decided to work on pipes beneath the park, they would remove part or all of the park but not repair or replace it when the work is complete. The proposed site was excavated a few years ago for pipeline maintenance; the likelihood of excavation happening again is unstated.

– Foxfield did not budget for construction of a dog park when it set homeowner assessment rates. Building a park would be a significant expense and could lead to an increase in assessments for all Foxfield owners.

– Residents living nearby may find the sound of barking dogs annoying.

– Residents living nearby may find the odor of urine and uncollected dog feces annoying.

– Owners near the proposed sites who purchased homes backing to open space may complain, having assumed the space would continue to remain open and undeveloped.

– The park may need to close during months when grass doesn’t grow in order to prevent the ground from becoming barren and muddy.

– Fairfax County zoning laws may prohibit construction of a dog park at the proposed locations due to their proximity to nearby streams. There are conflicting reports on whether or not this unknown has been addressed.

– There are currently several Fairfax County dog parks already available for Foxfield residents to use, all located within a few miles of Foxfield.

– A new park may increase parking demands on nearby streets, visitor spaces, or the swimming pool parking lot.

The Foxfield Board is currently lacking complete pricing and other information on the resident proposal but suspects construction costs would be great enough to require the community to vote on whether or not to proceed. Because of the number and significance of unanswered concerns, though, it’s inappropriate to ask for a vote at this time. If the Board receives the missing information in time to inform homeowners, it anticipates holding a vote on the proposal at the annual meeting planned for October. (The annual meeting date, location, and details will announced separately.) All owners will be sent notice and detailed proposal information several weeks in advance of a vote, along with a proxy ballot which will allow owners to vote by mail.

32 Comments to “Dog Park Proposal”
  1. Bob Kerstein says:

    This should be available to residents only, especially if Foxfield can’t get insurance. We are dog owners and would support having a dog park, but it should be for residents only and is acceptable to unit owners around the park.

    • Scott says:

      Thanks for your comments. We don’t know how we’d exclude non-residents other than by policy, signage, and the honor system, but we have been getting emails from Franklin Glen residents urging us to build the park.

      Our insurance underwriter says we’d need to get signed statements from each Foxfield user of the park, probably yearly, stating that the user has an as-yet-unknown amount of personal liability insurance coverage.

      • Gongjun Li says:

        How are we related to Franklin Glen community? Why do Franklin Glen residents urge us to build the dog park in our community instead of in their own community?

        • Scott says:

          As we understand, the Franklin Glen Board considered building their own park for awhile but then abandoned the project. Foxfield’s property manager received a flurry of similarly worded emails from Franklin Glen residents about a month ago, all expressing support for a Foxfield park that would be close to their homes. The proposal tells us that Foxfield and Franklin Glen residents are members of the same dog play group and socialize together regularly, so our guess is that the Franklin Glen residents expect to become “invited guests” and continue socializing with Foxfield residents in the Foxfield dog park.

        • Sarah Macuga says:

          I agree totally. This should not be open to everyone, much less be built at all due to the reasons the Board has listed. Why, if it was built, wouldn’t communities other than Franklin Glen come in and use it? This presents multiple safety issues. There’s a childrens’ safety issue with both locations. One is near a playground. One is near the swimming pool. How hard would it be to use either location to stalk and potentially snatch a child? it happens. And in broad daylight. There’s also a safety issue for scouting nearby homes from these areas for burglary. The real downside of this proposal is that it benefits the few over the benefits of the many. Why should Foxfield residents pay for everyones’ dog problems? As it says in the Board’s response, there are multiple dog parks already available a few miles from Foxfield. Why not take 10 minutes and drive to them? Foxfield residents are already paying for them through taxes.

          • Farrah says:

            Thank you for your points, Sarah! You stated them better than me. This is an incomplete proposal with very little information and consideration of the far-reaching implications, to a commitment like this.

        • Farrah says:

          We are not related. The person(s) who proposed thought it would be a selling point to say, hey, we’ll also be friends with the Franklin Glen people – as if their happiness and enjoyment of our community is a responsibility. It is not.

  2. Rachel Vermillion says:

    I do not want a dog park in the neighborhood. I live on Mazewood lane and own a dog. I would never buy a house close to a dog park and this will lower my property value.

  3. Kanchana Pavgi says:

    No one has asked us our opinion about a possible dog park behind our house. It will bring constant noise of dogs barking and also the lack of cleanliness. I am very concerned that dogs who run away could land up in my backyard and be a danger to me and my family. Who is responsible should the dog attack one of us?
    I am also not comfortable with the fact that our HOA dues could go up since Foxfield will have to pay a premium for their liability insurance.
    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

    • Scott says:

      It’s possible that you weren’t at home when opinions were being gathered but not to worry, this forum allows you to express your opinion equally as well. The Board’s understanding is that if a dog should inadvertently escape the fenced area and attack somebody, the dog’s owner would be liable for any injuries. As we understand, our insurance company would write a general liability policy for Foxfield only if each Foxfield dog owner who uses the park submits an annual statement certifying that the owner has a certain amount of personal liability insurance coverage, even though the policy our own company writes won’t cover any dog situations.* We don’t know how we would identify which owners needed to submit an annual statement or how we would control which owners could use the park.

      We don’t expect our liability insurance premiums to increase because of the project (because our liability insurance wouldn’t cover the park)*, but dog park construction and operating costs are not in our current budget or any previous budgets. The money to build and maintain a new park would have to come from somewhere, obviously, and for large new expenses there really is only one source for new income: an increase in our assessments.

      Thanks for your comments.

      [*9/12/20 update: The insurance situation remains murky. Our insurance agent is awaiting further details from the underwriters, but currently it seems that Foxfield would first need our attorney to draft a dog park policy document we could provide to the insurance company, along with providing them with the exact size of the park and its location. If the policy document met the insurance company’s approval, they could then quote us a liability policy that would include the park. We would need to somehow exclude non-residents from the park and require that all park users certify to us on a yearly basis that they have a certain amount of personal liability coverage. If an insurance claim payment was required the dog owner’s insurance policy would pay first. We don’t know what would happen in a claim situation if the dog owner wasn’t insured, or how we could ensure each dog park user provides us with the yearly certification. This is all just our current understanding, though, and details could change.]

      • Kanchana says:

        Thanks Scott.I hope my not being home is not counted as my vote for or against the dog park. Having said that, I checked with all my neighbors in my cul de sac and none of them were contacted regarding this issue. We look forward to the board meeting on the 28th of September, to have our questions and concerns addressed. Thanks

        • Scott says:

          The survey is only for the Board to collect opinions of the people who live closest to the two proposed locations, and if you weren’t contacted that doesn’t count as an opinion one way or the other. Thanks to your previous comment, though, three of your neighbors were contacted today and hopefully you will be contacted tomorrow.

          We are in the process of confirming a board meeting for September 28. Despite rumors and flyers to the contrary, though, we won’t be holding a community vote on the project this month. We do anticipate holding a vote next month, provided we obtain the missing and unstated proposal information in time to get the information to homeowners.

          Thanks again for your comments.

    • Farrah says:

      Wholeheartedly agree, Kanchana! You make salient points here and I agree that there is a cost element that is unknown in this consideration, as well as other house value, house enjoyment, and general safety that is undetermined.

  4. Elaine Ticatch says:

    My property borders on the site behind the pool tennis courts. It is currently a place where deer, fox and other creatures congregate (see my photo post on the fb site). I have a dog but I do not want a dog park that will scare these animals away. I also believe it will create more trash (I have to report the trash cans overflowing at those tennis courts every year), and lower, not increase, our property value.

    • Scott says:

      Drawings in the proposal show the majority of the flat land behind the tennis courts would be replaced by the new fenced-in park, which we suspect would preempt the wild creatures.

      The Board isn’t sure how trash cans at either of the proposed sites would be emptied or by whom, since they’d be far from the closest approach point of any trash truck. The issue isn’t addressed in the homeowner proposal.

      Thanks for your comments.

    • Farrah says:

      What is the FB site? I am a Foxfield homeowner and not part of a FB group. I have been deeply disappointed by the lack of coordinated (and seemingly, targeted) messaging by First Service and the HOA.

      I agree – no dog park for the reasons you said.

      • Scott says:

        Thanks for your comments, but FirstService Residential and the HOA Board haven’t engaged in any messaging on this topic. The Foxfield Facebook site was setup by Foxfield residents and is not an official communications channel for the HOA. We don’t post anything on FB. The only information put out by the Board is what you see on this web site, where we attempt to fairly present both sides of the issues. We’re waiting for a response from the proposal spokesperson that will address our stated concerns. All comments we’ve received from residents have been posted as originally written; nothing has been hidden.

  5. Laurel says:

    Dogs can also attack other dogs in a dog park/playground.Here is an excerpt from a post that was posted on Nextdoor this evening:”Our puppy was attacked this morning at Eleanor C. Lawrence park at the lilly pond across from Cabell’s Mill.She has sustained serious injury…The two dogs that attacked were sitting on a bench with their owner and three young children (one in a stroller).The children were holding the leashes and were pulled to the ground when the dogs attacked…Our puppy is at the emergency vet for the night and may not survive.

    • Scott says:

      That’s terrible and I wish the children and puppy the best. Of course we hope that bad things will never happen, but they sometimes do happen and that’s why people buy insurance. Ensuring we have proper liability insurance coverage is one of the Board’s unanswered concerns.

      Thanks for your comments.

  6. Gongjun Li says:

    I don’t want the dog park in the neighborhood. I live right behind the tennis court, and this proposal will have a disproportionate effect on our area. Every summer, there are lots of kids coming in and out of the pool. The dog park will pose dangers to the kids. Accidents are unavoidable. Secondly, the dog park only benefits dog owners, yet most of our neighbors have no dog. And still, it is our circle that must shoulder the detriments as the families most directly impacted by this proposal through location. Third, in this Willoughby Point Ln neighborhood, this empty site is the only public green land we have. We don’t even have a children’s playground. We often see this area used as a space for children to play. We shouldn’t take this away from children. Fourth, there are lots of costs not only to build the dog park, but also to maintain it (the fence, facility, insurance, security, park manager’s salary, lawn etc). This will increase the HOA fee dramatically. Fifth, the smell, the trash, the noise, and the view of the dog park will drastically drop the property value in this neighborhood. These are just some of the numerous potential problems that exist. Please reject this proposal.

    • Scott says:

      Thank you for your comments. The Board has sent its concerns to the proposal’s spokesperson and is waiting for a reply. Assuming we receive a timely response, we expect to hold a community vote on the proposal in the last week of October. Meeting details will be forthcoming.

  7. Jian Cheng says:

    The willoughby point ln site shouldn’t be considered as one option of the proposed dog park location. This open space is too small, about 2/3 of a tennis court size, not enough space for dog to run. Its ground level is lower than sounding area. It is very muddy during rainy season. The place is too close to tennis court, the tennis balls flying out of the tennis court will hurt the dogs and dog owners. It can cause a lot of troubles. In addition, for both location suggested, the dog park is too close to the residence. It is right behind home owner’s backyard, I haven’t seen a dog park built that close to residential houses. and I haven’t see a free public dog park run by a home community. The dog feces can transmit disease to human. Dog poop attracts rodents such as rats and mice. It is not a good idea to have a dog park close to residential houses. Actually, I don’t see a reason to build a dog park in our community. There are several dog parks nearby. I am surprised to see such a proposal.

  8. Tracy Berman-Kagan says:

    I live on Custom House Court — I border the site where the proposed dog park would be by the pipeline. I am opposed to this entire situation for the reasons that are laid out by the board; I do not feel that we have enough questions answered to vote on this proposal, and without that information, the vote comes down to being for or against the dogs, which isn’t the issue. I would urge that until we have the environmental and zoning study (I know it’s not sure if we need it, but let’s be conservative here), we not vote on this.

    Please be clear, this isn’t about the money — this is about the overall process. I object to the way that this has been handled, and the fact that the residents who are most affected do not have any more of a say on this than anyone else does.

  9. Laurel R. says:

    I do not support building a dog park/playground on either of the proposed sites in Foxfield. My concern continues to be around the cost for construction, insurance, legal fees, liability, maintenance and upkeep as well as how it would attract people from surrounding communities who want to use it. Non-Foxfeld residents are already using our tennis and basketball courts. In addition, there is no incentive for other communities who want this dog park to bear any of the many responsibilities involved. Dogs barking, waste removal, waste management, and lower property values would result. I don’t believe this would raise our property value at all. Also, those outside of Foxfield would not contribute to any of the cost of construction, maintenance, etc. Foxfield residents would shoulder every conceivable burden with this project. Our HOA fees are already going up and the cost of a dog park that would take the space of 40 townhomes is completely untenable. Many of us moved to this neighborhood with the promise of open land that would not be further developed. In addition, our taxes already pay for several dog parks in the area. Nearby there is a dog park in Chantilly, a dog park in Reston, and two dog parks in Herndon. There are other dog parks, too. In Foxfield, people and their dogs are already socializing in the common area behind the townhomes on Mazewood Lane and Keefer Ct. It appears to be working well and does not negatively impact the rest of us who are opposed to this project.

    • Scott says:

      Thank you for your comments. According to the proposal, it seems the part that is not currently working well is that dog owners receive citations and fines if they let their dogs run on the pipeline without being leashed.

  10. Andrea M says:

    I also oppose the dog park for all reasons stated above. How much will this cost each homeowner due to increases in HOA fees? This will necessarily bring more non-resident foot and vehicle traffic to Custom House Ct, not to mention impacting our already limited visitor parking spaces. The potential negative impact to our quiet cul-de-sac is entirely too risky and the continuing costs are too unpredictable.

    • Scott says:

      We don’t know what a dog park would cost to build and operate, so unfortunately we can’t estimate the cost to each homeowner. The proposal includes five different quotes to build on the pipeline, no quotes to build at the tennis courts, and no estimates of operating costs. The quotes vary significantly in their price and completeness. For example, one consists of basic fencing but specifically excludes any gates. Another calls for reinforced fencing with separate areas for large and small dogs, an opaque divider between the areas to reduce barking, five gates, six seating benches, and a dog waste collection station. There are no estimates of the cost to bring metered water service to either park, the cost of an engineering study, or legal fees.

      As you wrote, traffic and parking availability could become issues. The Board too has several remaining concerns. Thank you for your comments.

  11. Farrah Khan says:

    I oppose.

    As has been made clear, this is a frivolous proposal aiming to please a limited number of residents but with catastrophic ripples of responsibility and cost. There is little means of control for those who will likely access.

    Rather than repeat my reasons, I second what Tracy and Lauren and Andrea said above.

  12. Omid Mansoory says:

    I also strongly oppose the dog playground/park for all the reasons mentioned by folks above. We too moved to this neighborhood with the promise of green open landscape that would not be further developed.

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