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Jun 24th
Miami Shores Dog Days, Part II PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
June 2017

New village dog park gets mostly high marks 

LParkPatrol_1ast month’s “Park Patrol” recounted the 12-year struggle in Miami Shores to get a fenced-in dog park approved by property owners and Village council, and then built. The park’s opening has become good news amid a season of constant local social media discord. Here’s Part II.

Elizabeth Cowen, co-founder of a dog-park citizens committee, speaks glowingly of assistant public works director Chris Miranda and his construction team: “Kudos to Chris Miranda, interim recreation director Angela Dorney, and the entire public works crew for their labor of love and putting their creative touches to our dog park.”

The original site’s size was 0.27 acre, but the Village borrowed 11 parking spaces on the area’s northern perimeter to enlarge it to 0.35 acre, slightly more than 15,000 square feet, making it possible to split the greenspace into separate small- and large-dog enclosures. Parking will be added back in two areas next to the Aquatic Center.

Village manager Tom Benton breaks down final park construction costs: $129,342 for the park and its amenities; $20,600 is the written bid for paving new parking. This comes in well under the budgeted $200,000.

ParkPatrol_2Benton doesn’t have immediate plans for additional improvements, such as a Village Dog Park sign or an extension of the walkway, but he says he would consider reasonable suggestions in the future.

Interim recreation director Angela Dorney took on the role of planning the park’s design, ordering equipment, and working with Cowen and Steven Shulman, the other citizens committee co-founder, when former recreation director Jerry Estep suddenly passed away in June 2016.

“I think Jerry’s death was a setback for both this park project and the proposed rec center,” says Miami Shores Mayor Mac Glinn. “He was an important part of the community. We all had to recalibrate and figure out a path forward after his passing. I believe that Angie Dorney and the rest of the staff did a great job picking up the ball and going forward with it, although his death was a devastating loss.”

Former Miami parks and recreation director Albert Ruder, who consulted pro bono on the project, recalls phone conversations and one day-long exploration with Estep in May 2016 of area dog parks and the proposed site in front of the Aquatic Center.

“I sensed a real positive attitude on his part to work with the citizens to make the dog park a reality,” says Ruder.

ParkPatrol_3Public response to the new park has been fairly positive, too. The location away from the central Miami Shores area seems not to be an issue, as residents are willing to travel to Biscayne Boulevard. “It’s a 25-minute drive to Haulover Dog Park,” says Shores resident Greg Shaughnessy, who along with his two-year-old Australian cattle dog, Arthur, were among the first visitors to the park during opening week in March. “I could walk my dog on leash,” he says, “but this is a better alternative for him, to be off-leash.” Told that critics say the park is too small, Shaughnessy replies, “It seems totally suitable for the use of the space. I don’t know why some would be so critical.”

Niki Koenig lives east of the Boulevard and brings her ten-year-old daughter, Azalea, and their Chihuahuas, Kiki and Ginger. Kristi Diaz lives west of the Boulevard and visits the park every day with her Chihuahua puppy, Cholula. Joan Hill and her 11-year-old female Briard, Ribbon, are regulars, too.

Praise for the new park dominates, although some have expressed concerns, for example, that their toy breeds can’t reach the watering station bowls (there’s a human/canine fountain in both small- and large-dog spaces) and offered suggestions, as in “please put a dividing fence on rollers,” says Hill, so visitors can sometimes enlarge the exercise yards. There have been a few dog aggression episodes, as well.

ParkPatrol_4Angela Dorney regularly receives complaints: pool kids treat the park as a petting zoo, non-residents use the park, vaccinations should be checked, little-dog toys are choking hazards left in the big-dog area.

She explains that $5 resident-only gate fobs are sold at the community center and the Aquatic Center, but lines have been down while the Village switches to AT&T fiber optics this summer. In May staff began checking access cards. Dorney also mentions that donations are being accepted; oak trees, benches, water fountains, fire hydrants, and agility equipment have been partially paid for with community donations.

Concrete walkways make the park disability-accessible, and one large Apollo Sungard Shade covers the weather-resistant benches in both parks. High-visitor rates required additional benches, which were added in late April.

Temporary metal picnic tables have been replaced with shaded, weather-resistant disability-accessible tables. The request by Shulman and Cowen for a sound wall along the Biscayne Boulevard perimeter, which according to Mayor Glinn, would have come close to doubling the cost of the park, was scaled down to an attractive clusia hedge.

ParkPatrol_5Opening-day ceremonies April 14 saw dozens of dogs and their owners enjoying a late afternoon of celebration. We can sit back and relish the achievement.

Shulman still stresses that the park is in the wrong location, is noisy from street traffic, and too small. Before the April opening, he posted on Nextdoor: “Unfortunately, it’s the size of a small fishbowl, all courtesy of Mac Glinn’s decision to build the tiny park in the worst location in Miami Shores.”

Glinn responds to the BT: “People were allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a great park. Is it ideal? No, but it’s a great park in a great spot for this community. It preserves our existing park space while it activates a piece of land that’s not being used.”

Former parks and recreation director Ruder has the last word: “Before we created Blanche Dog Park, many of the Coconut Grove neighbors didn’t interact with each other. But after the park was created, the whole neighborhood changed in that the park became a meeting place where dogs and humans would see each other on a daily basis.… This park transformed the community, and I hope the same positive experience happens in Miami Shores.”

 

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Park_map

Village Dog Park


10200 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami Shores, FL 33138
305-758-8103


Park Rating

palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-0


Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Picnic Tables: Yes
Barbecues: No
Shade pavilions: Yes
Agility equipment: Yes
Athletic fields: No
Night lighting: Yes
Large- and small-dog areas: Yes
Playground: No

 

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