The survey is up and the Dog Park Committee is awaiting residents’ input, whether you own a dog not.

Committee Chair Barb Sirvis appeared before the city council Monday night to give an update on the committee’s work.

“It’s important we make this process as transparent as possible, and as engaging as possible,” she said.

The committee has been meeting for several months to plan a survey of residents to gauge what people want in a dog park, and what they don’t. Two community forums are also planned, the first taking place at the South Burlington Police Station Tuesday night, with a second forum sometime in May.

Sirvis told the council that the online survey went live on the city website on Sunday, and there were already 90 responses by Monday night.

The goal is to gather the survey information and all of the public comments and present a report with recommendations to the city council on June 3.

The committee was formed last spring following the recommendation of a dog park taskforce charged with addressing issues of location, noise, and whether to keep open or close the dog parks that used to exist in the city. The issue came to a head in June after petitions were received from residents, one to keep the Jaycee Dog Park open and another to close it.

The task force presented its findings at a council meeting in May 2018 in preparation for the re-opening of the Jaycee Dog Park, but the council reversed the opening, and instead directed the group to explore several new locations at Veterans Memorial Park as a potential site.

The task force completed a study of the Veterans Memorial Park sites, but at the June 4, 2018 meeting, the task force ultimately recommended that the council put the siting and dog park committee development process on hold to take time to reflect on the process.

On Monday, Sirvis said the committee has identified five city-owned properties where a dog park might work: Wheeler Homestead, Underwood, Oak Creek, Red Rocks, and Garvey Park.

She also said the committee is open to leasing, purchasing or receiving private or institution-owned property as a donation to create a dog park.

Sirvis also said one park is not enough for South Burlington. Currently, the only dog park is in Farrell Park off Swift Street.

“We are all agreed that we will need more than one dog park in South Burlington” she told the council.

Sirvis adjusted earlier estimates on just how many dogs are in South Burlington. She said data indicates 1,300 dogs registered with the city, but that there could be roughly 4,300 dogs total in 2,550 homes.

The Survey

There are 21 questions on the dog park survey, which the committee estimates will take 10 minutes to complete. It is anonymous, but residents will have the option to include contact information if they want to get updates.

Questions range from how many dogs and what size dogs people have, to where they exercise their dogs, if they are aware of the Farrell Park dog park, if they support a new dog park, and what factors are important in their decision to use a dog park. Those factors include accessibility, proximity to home or work, ample parking, size, cleanliness, amenities like benches, water and shade, and dog owners being aware and responsible for their dog’s behavior.

The survey also asks if respondents have ever decided against using a dog park, and why. Some of the reasons include having a dog not trained well enough, fear of inattentive owners, fear of aggressive dogs, overcrowding, too much dog waste, lack of parking, and others.

Lastly, the survey asks respondents for their age, if they are interested in volunteering, how they would like to receive news on the issue going forward, and a space for additional comments.

There is $25,000 in the city budget allocated to help establish a new dog park, to buy necessities like fencing.

After Sirvis’s presentation, Councilor Dave Kaufman said he was disturbed so few dogs were registered with the city.

“It’s abominable how few dogs are registered with the city, and as you develop this plan, I hope you require that all dogs in parks are registered with the city,” Kaufman said.

To take the Dog Park Community Survey, go to www.sburl.com and scroll down to the bottom of the home page under “City News”. There will be a box titles ‘Dog Park Public Forum and Survey”. Click “Keep Reading” and go to the survey link.

Managing Editor

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