Brown St Dog parK
What is the Providence Dog parK Association and why are we here??? Read a little bit about our history…
In late August 2005, the Providence Parks Dept. removed the gates from a small neighborhood dog park located on Brown Street, behind Hope High School. The park, about 3/4 of an acre, had been in existence as an enclosed off-leash play area for about four years without incident. While the city prohibits dogs (leashed or unleashed) from setting foot in ANY city park, the Brown Street Dog parK provided area residents with a place to congregate and socialize while our dogs exercised.
Since there were no official dog parks in the City of Providence, the space at Brown Street became increasingly popular, and in the summer of 2005, overcrowding became a problem. The landscaping suffered from the increased foot (paw) traffic and the resulting dust kicked up on windy days. During the hot, dry summer of 2005, the urine odor increased as well, making the park a less than pleasant experience for all involved.
This small space could not handle the amount of dogs that visited, but it was all that dog guardians could offer their dogs in the way of a safe, enclosed space in Providence. Park patrons realized the park was suffering and tried to think of things we could do to improve it, be it reseeding, distributing wood chips, etc. We had heard nothing in the way of complaints from neighbors or from the city.
How did we learn that there was a problem? One morning in late August, without notice, a Parks Dept. worker came and removed the gates. Later that afternoon, during the park’s “rush hour”, park patrons were shocked to find that our park was no longer enclosed, and that the rest of the gates (there were three access gates total) were scheduled to be removed. There was quite an uproar, and that is when the group, Save Our Dog Park (SODP) was formed.
Within a week, SODP organizer Betsy Ruppa had an email list of 100 names, mostly dog guardians who were furious about the abrupt closure of the park. The e-list grew to nearly 200, a petition drive was launched, and SODP members were urged to express their views in writing to the Superintendent of Parks, Alix Ogden.
We managed to get plenty of attention! The Parks Dept. listened to our plea and arranged two public testimony meetings where residents could express their interest in and need for an urban off-leash play area. Among the points made at the meetings, residents testified that dog parks:
1. create a strong sense of community
2. provide much needed recreation for dogs and their guardians within an urban environment
3. help reduce crime in the neighborhood (after the park was closed, it became a hang out for illicit activities)
4. are an incentive for many people to move into a neighborhood so they could live near a dog park
5. allow residents of varying lifestyles, incomes, ages, etc. to unite on common ground, thanks to our common interest… our dogs
6. provide easy and safe access for elderly guardians to exercise their dogs (which is especially important in the winter months when icy sidewalks can be treacherous).
On November 18th, 2005, the Parks Board met, and having reviewed the petitions, letters and public testimony, determined that the citizens of Providence did indeed need a dog park! The Board decided to reopen Brown Street, but it was only be a temporary dog park. We had a one year period to relocate. On June 14th, a new dog park was opened at the Gano St. Park, which meant that Brown Street had to close.
At the Brown St dog park, we found a pleasant place where people and their dogs could congregate throughout the year. We made new friends, shared information about our dogs, kept each other up to date about neighborhood activities and believed that the park enhanced the feeling of community in a world where we are becoming increasingly isolated from one another. We still cannot understand why it was not possible to work out an agreement with the City, the City Council and a few unhappy neighbors. Dog park patrons demonstrated a willingness to comply and followed the strict regulations and requirements set forth by the City. We still believe that closing the park was not the right solution.
We urge all City Council members to learn more about the need for off-leash parks in urban areas and to guide the City of Providence on the path to becoming a progressive place to live.
We believe that the closing of the Brown St dog park is a loss to the East side community as well as to the City of Providence. It is with great sadness that we say good-bye to an old friend.
A special thanks….. to ALL the volunteers who locked and unlocked the park gates two times a day EVERY DAY from January through June, to the volunteers who took the time to monitor the park every day, to the volunteers who pitched in on the monthly park clean-up days, to all of you who said a simple “thank you”, to the graphic designers, our attorney, our fundraising committee members, our web page designer, our “gurus” and advisors, and to those of you who buoyed our spirits when we thought all was lost… we couldn’t have made it without EACH and EVERY ONE OF YOU.
A heartfelt thanks for demonstrating what “community” really means…