Off-leash Hours In Parks Still Need Working Out

July 02, 2009|By Jill Rosen | Jill Rosen,jill.rosen@baltsun.com

Nearly two months after Baltimore's City Council voted to pursue creating off-leash dog hours in some parks, officials are still wrangling over the realities of making it happen.

Recreation and Parks Director Wanda S. Durden said Wednesday that her department has zeroed in on four city parks where dogs could lawfully be off-leash during certain times.

The next step, she said, is inviting the communities of Riverside Park, Patterson Park, Herring Run Park and Wyman Park to weigh in on the idea.

If the various communities can agree to off-leash dog hours, then they'd also have to debate where in the parks and what times of day to allow them. Since allowing dogs off leashes in city parks is a notoriously divisive subject, it's unclear when - if ever - people can expect to see dog zones established.

"That will be a lot of discussion we'll have with community folks," Durden said. "Nothing is definite."

On May 12, while voting to decrease the penalty for people caught with off-leash dogs, the City Council also agreed to look into establishing off-leash times at some parks.

It's now illegal for people to allow their dogs to run off-leash in any public areas except the city's one dog park in Canton. Another dog park in Locust Point is expected to open later this summer, Durden said.

People who have dogs requested off-leash hours in the four parks now up for discussion, Durden said, adding that officials will still consider other areas if they get requests.

"We're excited about the prospect," said Judith Kunst, who has a dog and lives near Wyman Park. "The dogs need it mentally and physically."

Riverside, Wyman, Herring Run and Patterson parks all appear to meet the city's guidelines for dog areas. There's at least 10,000 square feet to spare, the ground is relatively level, a dog area wouldn't be too close to playgrounds and ball fields, and any potential dog zones would comply with watershed regulations.

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