Unleashed dogs spoil a walk - and topsoil

December 07, 2003|By DAN RODRICKS

I HATE to bring this up, with all the pretty snow covering the landscape and everything looking like "a picture print by Currier and Ives," but here goes: There is apparently so much dog waste in Robert E. Lee Park that the city is going to close down a big part of it and remove the topsoil. A section of the park has been deemed a potential health hazard.

Good morning, Baltimore!

I'm sure the 1.5 kazillion dog owners who like to let their pooches run all over this lovely, but unfortunately named park at the Baltimore City-Baltimore County border will be thrilled to learn that fixing this mess could take a year and a half. They're talking July 2005 before the job is done. Why so long to clean up? Because the city first needs to fix the bridge that leads to the most popular section of the park (Poop Peninsula, on Lake Roland) so that it can support the dump trucks and earth movers that will take part in this "soil remediation" project.

The closing of the bridge, part of a city-county master plan for park improvements, takes effect Friday, according to Robert Greene, spokesman for the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks. Greene says soil samples in the most dog-saturated section of the park, which appears on maps as a peninsula jutting into Lake Roland, showed "extremely high levels" of bacteria posing a "potential health risk." (One sample, he said, was 17,000 percent above the acceptable level.) So the city is going to do what it did several months ago at a park in South Baltimore - remove and replace the soiled soil.

Robert E. Lee Park has been a regular destination for city and county dog lovers for years. A lot of them have let their pets run through the park, which is why I rarely go there anymore. Some dog owners confidently (or arrogantly) assume that their dogs will come when called and not scare or attack strangers; I don't share that confidence and would rather not spoil a good walk with worries about whether a dog is going to take a nip.

I also don't enjoy constant vigilance for land mines. Free-range, or self-walking, canines relieve themselves wherever they like. And apparently even some dog owners who keep their pets on a leash haven't felt the need to pick up after them in the park, as they might - emphasis on "might" - in their own back yards or neighborhoods. There should be no surprise that the city had to take these measures.

Too many people, too many dogs - we need zero population growth for both.

Or else we colonize Mars!

Alien tradition

This sounds like it might be worth the side trip: 28th Street in Remington, rowhouse roof with a traditional Christmas nativity scene (Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Wise Men) plus a giant, green inflatable alien looming in the background. "Apparently," says the reader who spotted this, `it wasn't just a star those wise men were following - it was a UFO."

Little Tavern fan mail

Thursday's column on the Little Tavern in Laurel provoked a flash flood of e-mail and phone calls from Marylanders, present and former, who gushed with fond memories of the mostly vanished hamburger joints.

"The column brought back memories of growing up in Mount Washington and the Saturday trips to the Pimlico or Uptown Theaters for matinees," wrote Steve Mand. "Our first stop was the Little Tavern on Belvedere Ave. near Park Heights Ave. [now used by a church group]. In those days, the hamburgers were 10 cents per. My friends and I would each get at least five per person, and off to the movies we would go."

Other readers recalled trips to the Little Taverns in College Park, Laurel and Baltimore as "hangin' out at the Porcelain Room of the Club LT." The little burgers, not much larger than the pickle slices that came with them, sustained cash-strapped college students and were regular fare, by the bagful, at frat houses at the University of Maryland.

Readers also pointed out an error in the column: The Little Tavern in Ocean City no longer exists; it was transformed into a steamed-crab joint in the past year, making the two Little Tavern shops in Baltimore and the one in Laurel the last in existence.

Jerry McCoy, president of the Silver Spring Historical Society, noted that another LT (built on Georgia Avenue, circa 1938) was demolished in the past year despite what McCoy says were promises by a developer to preserve it as an example of mid-20th-century architecture. "I will grieve this loss," wrote McCoy, "along with our 1927 Maryland National Guard Armory (a designated Montgomery County historic landmark) that was bulldozed in 1998 for a seven-story parking garage on which only started being constructed this summer. Thus the story of Silver Spring's `revitalization' goes."

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