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If you've been reading the , you may have noticed several calls to police asking them to enforce at Memorial Park.
Several readers have asked: Why the sudden concern about enforcement?
Earlier this month, the took a look at a fenced area in the northeast corner of , which many say has become Albany's de facto off-leash dog park.
Last June, the City Council to make it easier to separate sports activities at the baseball fields from pet owners and their dogs.
Though the area was not specifically set aside for dogs, many say fencing off the space has led to a rise in popularity among dog owners from all over the area. Dozens of dogs, and their owners, often can be found in the space.
This shift from what had been mostly a neighborhood resource to more of a regional attraction has brought with it a slew of problems, say some neighbors, including barking at all hours and parking shortages in front of their homes.
Others cite litter, more frequent dog fights, owners yelling to stop dogs from fighting, unsightly grass and an overall deterioration of the space.
About seven people, both frustrated neighbors and dog advocates, spoke to the Parks & Rec Commission about the issue on June 14.
Dog owners pleaded with commissioners not to take away the space, and brainstormed ways community members who use the area can help enforce rules and improve conditions.
Said Recreation & Community Services Director Penelope Leach: "The question of the day is how can we maintain this as a multi-use area" given the volume and frequency of dogs on site. Leach said the field is "no longer safe to have as a space for other sports" due to patchy grass and divots in the ground.
She said limiting the times and days dogs could be in the area was likely the solution, but added: "I don't know that we can do that. There will always be the problem we have here in Albany with enforcement.... We can't babysit that area."
Neighbors noted "huge changes" since the fence was installed.
"We're at a point where, at least me, I'm ready to put the house up for sale.... The noise is unbelievable," said a woman who lives across the street.
Some members of the panel and the public suggested that an active Friends-type organization composed of dog owners, similar to those that exist at places like Pt. Isabel, could perhaps address some of the issues head-on from a grassroots level.
"It's clear they take pride in their parks," said Commissioner Heather Cunningham, "that people are holding other people accountable. There are clear expectations, and that may be part of what's missing. I'm not in favor of taking away places for dogs....but I want it to be accessible to everybody."
The commission didn't make a decision on the matter, but called it a "tough issue."
Have you noticed changes in this area at Memorial Park? Do you have ideas for a solution? Tell us in the comments.
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