Dog owners who showed up before the Parks Commission last week to argue for keeping the Ashland Ponds a dog-friendly area made a strong case, and commissioners appeared to recognize that. We’re on the side of the dog-walkers on this one.
For now, the suggestion to ban dogs in favor of a designated wildlife refuge is off the table until after a 24-inch pipe is installed to carry outfall from the sewage treatment plant. That’s the only rational decision, given that everyone agrees the construction project will be far more disruptive to wildlife than people walking their canine companions. The work could start in 2020 and will take some time to complete.
The only designated wildlife refuged inside the city at this point is Mountain Avenue Park. That park, along with other parks including Lithia Park, are already off-limits to dogs. The Dog Park is available, but is a place for pets to socialize and romp with other dogs, not a place for a relaxing walk. And some dogs don’t do well in that environment.
The ponds area offers level terrain inside the city. Leashes are required, and a dog waste bag station and garbage can are already installed.
It’s true that the presence of dogs could scare off wildlife, but as one speaker noted, so can the presence of humans.
After planned cooling ponds are installed on the property, it might be possible to accommodate both dogs and a wildlife refuge. Until then, the area should remain dog-friendly.