Updated 12:58 p.m. | Restaurateur Teddy Folkman is imploring fellow pet owners to hound the DC Department of Parks and Recreation about taking better care of a dilapidated dog park.
On Facebook, the Capitol Hill resident and man behind Granville Moore's urged animal lovers to weigh in on the issue by pinging government officials with a simple message: “Please clean up Kingsman Dog Park. We'll help.”
Folkman told HOH he lives just a KONG’s throw from the ratty-looking facility and that he tends to escort his furry friend there as often as possible. “My house is a block away so my dog gets spoiled going there twice a day,” Folkman explained via email.
The frequent visits have made him painfully aware of the disrepair the spot has fallen into since its unveiling in early 2011.
And while the city has shown up from time to time to address certain failings — Folkman seems to recall the water fixtures being looked at about 18 months ago — he believes it is time for a major overhaul.
The current to-do list includes:
- Surface replacement: “[The] surface of the dog park is gravel. It has turned to mostly dust and dirt. Some paws can't handle the gravel so we are looking to get FIBAR installed into the park,” he said, citing an estimate of $4,000 for the resurfacing. “We can raise money for it but we'd like the city's help.”
- Water Fixed: “Hydrants are broken and are now missing the handles to turn them on and off.”
- Waste: “It is not picked up regularly and leads to some foul odors wafting onto Kingsman Park.”
- Grounds to be up kept: “There are weeds and grass and ivy growing everywhere,” he asserted, noting that while his pal, Jonathan Metz, executive director of the community-based Hill Hounds, voluntarily polices the area, it’s more than a one-man job.
- Privacy gates for surrounding neighbors: “A lot of the neighbors that back up to the dog park don't want to see Fido pooping every time they go out back. It would be nice to do something for them.”
Metz articulated a host of additional concerns via email:
- The Park needs to be leveled out and then pitched at a degree according to code in order to get rainwater to naturally escape the park. Currently the lot is so uneven that a disproportionate amount going into the only two drains that accommodate the park. The gravel that's there creates a paste when it gets wet, and that hardens in the pipes causing a lot of backflow.
- The drainage in the Park needs to be updated. There's evidence that suggests they didn't update the pipes leading out of the Park that were in use when Safeway owned the lot back in the 60s. Instead, they simply connected new drains to the existing park. Fortunately, the new surface material we want to install requires channels to be built into place that will relieve a lot of the runoff. The material itself is also better at handling water that it comes into contact with.
- The gates need to be maintained so they open and close automatically.
- There needs to be a more prominent barrier between the Park itself and the sidewalk so we don't lose surface material from the park. Pushing gravel around simply creates dust, making it virtually impossible to put back into the park.
- There is supposed to be a green perimeter around the rim of the park, along the basketball court area. This is so pet waste can remain in the center, so a short barrier should be installed to keep dogs from getting in that area. This is more than simply aesthetics. The waste from the park is too close to the children that play in that area.
- The donor's bricks should be more prominently displayed at the front of the gate, as per the original Park plans.
- I'd like some better lighting so the area has a bit better safety for members of the park. There's a lot of drug use that occurs in the back end of the basketball court. I've caught some people drinking 40s in the Park at night.
- The back fence should have a better obfuscation that separates the people in the back from the people in the park. This would address noise and odor control.
- The fountains should have a shutoff valve that we are able to control. The weather here is moderate enough that ending water to the park arbitrarily is harmful to our pets.
- The city has an outstanding contract with us that I'd like to address. They need to meet with me to discuss how to better take care of the park. Ideally they'd allow us more autonomy to get things done.
Anyone who doubts Metz’s commitment to routine maintenance is more than welcome to pick up any perceived slack.
He mapped out a rigorous agenda involving replenishing poop baggies (at a quarterly cost of $204), handling of toxic chemicals (“They [DPR] wanted us to use an industrial pool bleach-based cleaner that explicitly said do not use around pets, children and the elderly. I got a rash when I brought it to the transfer station,” he stated) and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of elbow grease.
“When I'm actually at the Park, I typically spend about 8-10 hours cleaning it by myself,” Metz calculated.
Parks Department officials did not respond to emails requesting comment about dog park maintenance protocols or where Kingsman might rank in terms of policy priorities.
Rather than just make a stink, Folkman appears most interested in rallying go-getters to the cause.
“I don't think it is the DC Government’s fault or any one person that the dog park is in dissary [sic]. I just believe that many voices with the same message will be stronger then one and things can get fixed,” he posited.
Per Folkman, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen has already joined the pack.
“Councilmember Allen has reached out to DPR on our behalf to get them more involved. He's a rockstar,” Folkman shared.
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