Village Board Disestablishes Dog Exercise Area
at Brookville Road Park
Park Remains Open for Continued Use by the Public
On September 9, 2019 the Village’s Board of Managers held its 7th public hearing on the Dog Exercise Area (DEA) at Brookville Road Park. At the meeting, the Board voted 5-2 to disestablish the DEA, effective immediately. Brookville Road Park remains open for use by all
without residency restrictions of any kind. The following information is presented to provide some of the background and reasoning for this decision and to answer questions we have received.
Three meetings were held pre-establishment regarding use and design of the park and four were held after the establishment of the DEA. The Brookville Road Park was purchased in part with Program Open Space funds, and will remain open to all. During the design phase the Board considered the park’s past limited, but not authorized, use for off-leash dogs, and felt this continued light use in an established DEA could be accommodated.
Instead, Brookville Road Park quickly became a popular and well-advertised dog park serving the DC Metropolitan area, and it became important for the Board to re-assess the suitability of this use of such a small Village space in terms of the usual metrics applied to specialty parks. The majority of the Board concluded that it was not possible to sustain a DEA at Brookville Road Park, or any Village park, given the popularity, location, small size, and proximity to residences. How did the Board decide to disestablish the Dog Exercise Area when the majority of those who testified supported it?
The Board listened carefully to the public comment and considered all of the written submissions. The support for the park, and the benefit of this social interaction to many people, were obvious to all of us from the testimony. While many decisions can and should be made based upon the majority sentiment, some matters must also be viewed through the lens of upholding the minimum standards required of a high-volume, high-impact specialty use. After months of investigating sound-buffering options, parking restrictions, access control systems and reductions in hours, a majority of the Board did not feel that the park could meet the reasonable neutral standards outlined as best practice for a park now accommodating an increasing and unpredictable amount of off-leash dog use. It seemed members of the Board had already made up their mind; is that true?
The Board concluded during its hearing in June that it would consider disestablishment. The notices for the July hearing indicated that the Board might vote on disestablishment, but with two members absent on summer vacation, the Board decided to wait to vote in September while continuing to allow more public notification of the possible impending change. In the interim, and at the September 9 hearing, no evidence emerged that concerns about the size and location could be mitigated, and the majority of the Board voted to follow-through with the disestablishment. Has the park been “dismantled” or “closed”?
Brookville Road Park remains open for all members of the public—with or without dogs. Dogs must remain on a leash under the immediate control of a handler, just as in all public spaces in the Village. The gates were removed for ease of entry to the park, consistent with all other Village parks. Where can dog owners go to allow their dogs off-leash?
Chevy Chase Playground on Livingston Street, DC allows off-leash dogs in the mornings. Currently the closest park in Montgomery County is located at Ellsworth Urban Park in Silver Spring. Clearly there is a need for more dog parks. How can the community advocate for more?
In June, the Montgomery Planning Board approved sites for possible county dog parks. Nearest to the Village are the four parks at Willard Avenue, Norwood, Elm Street and North Chevy Chase. Please call Village Manager Shana Davis Cook for more information: 301-654-7300