You Ask: What's With All the Dog Issues at Memorial Park?

Several reports in the police bulletin about dog issues at Memorial Park have left some readers wondering: What's it all about?

[If you have  about a problem in Albany, send it in with "You Ask" in the subject line, and we'll do our best to dig up an answer. Your name will not be shared without permission.]

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. 

Click the "Keep me posted" button below this story for an email update when we write about dog issues in Albany. See the .

If you have  about a problem in Albany, send it in with "You Ask" in the subject line, and we'll do our best to dig up an answer. Your name will not be shared without permission.

If there's something in this article you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

Sharon Bonnifield July 01, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Thanks Koji for the information on the meeting. Power to the dogs. Sharon
Tatter Salad July 02, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I seriously doubt that City paid grounds keepers removed a dog dish from the edge of the dog park. They don't have the time to remove the weeds in the same area, so I doubt that they would spend their time towards that end.
Winifred Owen July 02, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Just repeating what we were told by a commissioner at the Parks & Rec meeting - that when City workers, who allegedly empty the trash can by the gate on a daily basis (well, almost), encounter various items (chairs were specifically mentioned) in that area, they are removed by those same workers. I cannot attest to each and every item that may go missing from there - just (again) passing along what we were told. And you are SOOOO right about the weeds. Does the City not own a weed whacker?
Jennifer Carlson July 12, 2012 at 01:34 AM
I use and enjoy the dog park, as is. I do not support blending it with the larger field because, while I am responsible and clean up after my dogs, I do not delude myself into thinking that is a universal concept. My dogs run like maniacs when there, playing freely with any other dogs who appear interested. We are not unusually noisy, nor do we abuse the surrounding area. Dogs need a place to run and get out energy and the average Albany home does not offer much in the way of yard space. Please don't take the dog park away. We appreciate it and respect the neighboring homes. In any location, there are certain types of external impact. Where I live, it's the sirens from the fire station and police station, in addition to people channeling their inner "Mario Andretti" down my residential street. But I accept this as a necessary inconvenience that comes with living in an urban environment.
Tatter Salad July 12, 2012 at 02:27 AM
THANK YOU Koji regarding the Albany Parks & Rec. Commission meeting on Thursday, July 12th starting at 7:30pm at the Albany City Hall! I hope the Committee is smart enough to dissuade the repetitiousness-nature of some dog owners, and the Comittee begins by acknowledging: Dog Owners have a place here, parking and noise has NOT been a problem, and water (for grass and dogs) has been withheld c/o persons and caretakers unknown.


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