The saga of the Brook Run dog park continues.
Originally due to be voted on June 24–will it stay or will it go?–the location of the dog park at Brook Run Park in Dunwoody is still under discussion.
“We haven’t made any determination of where the park is going to go,” said Brent Walker, parks manager with the city of Dunwoody. “We are going to try to keep it in that area of the park, but we are not at the design stage yet. We have hosted community input meetings with the neighbors in Lakeview Oaks and the dog park association, as those are the two groups that we are trying to come to some kind of compromise with.”
The issues are: the Brook Run Dog Park Association (BRDPA), a nonprofit group that maintains the park, wishes the dog park to remain in its current location. It is currently in the western corner of the park and is approximately 150 feet from the boundary of Lakeview Oaks, a neighborhood established in the 1980s. Lakeview Oaks neighbors cite noise issues and the environmental impact of dogs running among the trees in the heavily shaded areas.
“I really don’t know where we are right now ,” said Laine Sweezey, president of BRDPA. “Our organization put together a proposal last year about how we could update the park, but [the city] didn’t seem to accept that. Now, they seem a lot more amenable to our position. I feel pretty sure we are going to stay where we are, but I am pretty sure there will be major changes to the layout. As long as we can stay in the area where we are and as long as we have around three acres in the same vicinity then we’re fine.”
Frank Lockridge, president of the Lakeview Oaks Homeowner’s Association, said he was also president of the association when the park was first implemented in 2006. Dunwoody was not incorporated at that time, and then-CEO Vernon Jones pushed for the development of the dog park. Jones made comments at the June 24 meeting of the Dunwoody City Council in favor of maintaining the park in its current location.
“My administration was responsible for a lot of things getting done in this county … but I think the thing that most touched me that I will never forget is the dog park,” Jones said. “I opened the first dog park in DeKalb County, and we got together with some like-minded people in the Dunwoody area and we were able to put together, I believe, a fine plan on developing Brook Run that included the dog park.”
Jones encouraged the council to have “the wisdom of Solomon” in negotiating whether to move or maintain the dog park’s location.
“I understand there are some issues and you have to make some decisions, and certainly there was no intent to offend any of the homeowners,” Jones said. “We certainly want everyone to enjoy and appreciate it.”
Lockridge said that at first, there were issues with dogs jumping the fence and running loose. Most of that has subsided but the noise level from barking dogs is still something he says his neighborhood cannot deal with.
“There have been people with the Dunwoody Homeowners Association that have come over and have heard the commotion that the dogs raise over there,” he said. “In my meetings with Mr. Walker and with other members of the council, I have maintained that I think the dog park is in the wrong place.”
Citing a 40-year career in civil engineering, Lockridge said that if there are dogs running where there are trees, as is the case with this park, the soil will compact and the vegetation will die.
Moving the park will cost money, he said, but so will maintaining it at its current location or updating it using noise buffers or reconfiguring the footprint.
“[The BRDPA] has done a good job getting volunteers to work on the park; however, I think the city is some day going to be obligated to maintain the park anyway,” he said.
Sweezey of the BRDPA, said she has not experienced the level of noise Lockridge claims is occurring. She said the association installed noise level meters in the park to gauge how loud it was.
“The highest one I have seen is 76 decibels, but it is usually between 65 and 70,” Sweezey said.
“We really want to be good neighbors. We are very proud of that park and it means a lot to us–we don’t want the people in Lakeview Oaks to hate us. But, we are happy that we think we are going to stay where we are.”
Seventy-six decibels is roughly equivalent to a car driving at 65 miles per hour at 25 feet away, according to a chart found at chem.purdue.edu. The dog park is 150 feet away from Lakeview Oaks at its nearest point. According to the chart, “upper 70s are annoyingly loud to some people.”
Parks manager Walker said he is trying to come up with a solution that preserves some of the location of the dog park while also mitigating the noise concerns of neighbors.
“The direction from city council is for me to look for some options for the dog park to stay in that area of the park but also provide a suitable buffer,” he said. “The mayor [Mike Davis] did say he wants to see something soon and it is a priority. We want to make sure everybody that has an opinion about it can express it, take all that and find the commonalities from both groups.”
This article originally appeared in The Champion Newspaper.