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Monday, March 23, 2009

Dog parks improve livability of urban neighborhoods

The Trust for Public Land recently ranked the nation’s largest cities based on the number of dog parks available to their residents. Cincinnati fared well, coming in at #15 with 1.2 dog parks per 100,000 residents (73kb PDF) out of the 75 total cities examined.

Dog parks provide dog owners living in the city a spot where they can bring their canine friend to do their “business.” A secondary, and equally important, role to dog parks is the social component. Dogs and their owners alike often use their trips to the dog park as a way to socialize and interact with other dogs and owners.

This social component provides that always desired community feel as people become bonded to their neighbors through shared experiences. In the city, it also puts more “eyes on the street,” and creates a sense of vibrancy that might not be there if the owners kept themselves and their dogs cooped up inside their urban dwelling unit.

A rather large example of a good urban dog park in NYC - Source

So while Cincinnati fares well with the overall dog parks per 100,000 residents analysis, it fails in the very neighborhoods that dog parks would provide this dual benefit. Aside from the Pet Athletic Club, there is no dedicated spot for residents of Downtown, Over-the-Rhine or the Westend to take their dogs. These neighborhoods are the most lacking in private yard space and need these kinds of parks to make urban living possible for the slews of dog owners out there.

There is hope though as a dog park is planned for the northern portion of Washington Park as part of its ensuing renovation/expansion. This will be a great asset for the residents of Over-the-Rhine and even those living in the northern parts of Downtown, but how about the many people living in the “Soapbox District” or over near Lytle Park?

Well there was a movement that surfaced about as quickly as it went away for a Downtown dog park. City Manager Dohoney got a group of stakeholders together to study the issue with pledged support from the Downtown Residents Council. The effort, however, has been stalled indefinitely as the associated construction and maintenance costs appeared to be too cumbersome.

Please share any thoughts or ideas you may have about how to go about implementing a small dog park in Downtown Cincinnati. A donated piece of land, volunteer service and ideas about how to set up some sort of dog park endowment would be especially helpful in developing a dog park.


Anonymous said...

Actually, the main reason for the parks is social activity for the dogs, in a secure but unleashed atmosphere. Dogs doing their "business" is just something that goes with the territory.

Jason said...

While I agree that Washington Park is a good spot for a dog park to serve OTR and Downtown, that area has many problems that would prevent such a park from being utilized. Washington Park is, quite frankly, a dangerous place to visit. Police patrols are frequent, and it is impossible to even walk past the park on Race Street without being solicited to buy drugs.

Before such a renovation would add any value to the neighborhood, the city and the other residents of the area need to do more to clean up this blighted downtown gem.

Anonymous said...

The downtown dog park is not Dead!

We have a fund with the Greater Cincinnati foundation and are collecting funds to prep and fence the site.

Would you care to help with fund raising? Please contact me,

The Urbanophile said...

For every person who loves having a dog, there's someone else who hates stepping in dog doo on the streets. Dogs don't add to my neighborhood livability. Quite the opposite in fact.

VisuaLingual said...

Personally, I think there are many potential spots for a dog park in the basin, and Washington Park isn't at the top of my list. In fact, since that park is going to be remodeled into a more toddler-friendly play area, unleashed dogs really don't seem like the right fit. I'd love to see the pool stay, and the dog park find its own spot in an empty lot in the neighborhood.

In response to Jason's comment that "it is impossible to even walk past the park on Race Street without being solicited to buy drugs" -- this is perhaps due to persona more than anything. I know this goes on, but I've never been invited to partake on any level.

Anonymous said...

I thought that a recent review of dog licenses showed that there was only one dog downtown? Has that changed?

Or are downtown dog owners shirking their responsibilities while simultaneously expecting the city to provide dog-related services for free?

Say it isn't so...

Slow Factory said...

Large pet dogs - leashed and generally muzzled - are allowed on urban transit in Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto... and most cities and towns in Europe.

It is not a substitute for a local dog park but certainly a complement -- if you have a dog park nearby it can help you get to other ones without a car.

For more info see "Dogs on Board!" at

Anonymous said...

I say use P&G Park downtown, the corporate semi private space in front of their 4th street headquarters. This was supposed to be a public square, not a private lawn. This space is twice as large as Fountain square, but is rarely used by the public due to the uninviting design and menacing security guards. I think the best possible revenge would be a nice steaming pile of doggy doo on their doorstep.

Randy Simes said...

Urbanophile, I said that dog parks add to the livability of an urban area. They offer a better set of options for those people who want to both live in an urban area and own a pet. Dog parks would also provide a positive location for the events that you find undesirable - thus improving the livability for you too.

Anonymous 1, What recent review of dog licenses are you talking about? All it takes is a simple walk through Downtown or OTR to see that there are far more dogs out there than the 1 you mention.

Anonymous 2, I too think that a portion of P&G's lawn area could be made into a great dog park. Maybe make it sponsored by Euknuba (or whatever the P&G dog product is).

Mark Stegman said...

Dog parks are a great way to build community among neighbors; I have met many friends while at dog parks. Dog parks encourage proper disposal and maintenance of doggy bi-product. Having a dog helps secure a home like a living alarm system. It would be great to see an official dog park in the OTR and downtown.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of dogs, no question. But about a year ago, when there was a flap about banning dogs from Fountain Square, a local blog went through the list of dog licenses by zip code and found only one dog registered in the downtown zip codes. Perhaps more dog owners have taken the plunge and actually registered the pets.

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