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Park Authority Unleashes Draft Dog Park Study, Plans for More Facilities

The Fairfax County Park Authority is one step closer to planning for more dog parks in the county due to an increase in demand and the authority’s currently limited offerings.

The county recently completed a draft report of a dog park study that was initiated in 2019 and conducted by the FCPA and Fairfax County Park Foundation. A survey soliciting feedback for the study attracted more than 4,600 respondents.

“The purpose of the study was to assess needs and priorities for dog parks throughout the county, and to adopt strategies for long-term planning, development and management of dog parks,” FCPA wrote in a statement.

The report calls on FCPA to construct at least one dog park by 2025 to meet service needs in the area and to implement revised guidelines and standards for future dog parks. Survey respondents most sought a new dog park in the planning districts of Upper Potomac and Bull Run.

The county currently has 13 public dog parks, 11 of which are owned and operated by FCPA.

The study recommends creating future parks based on geographic distribution and the overall goal of 20-minute drive access throughout the county and 10-minute walking access in densely populated areas. The density of licensed dogs in a given area would also be considered.

The study does not recommend any changes to existing dog park rules or operating hours.

Volunteering could also become a stronger component of managing dog parks. The report suggests using volunteers to manage existing and future programs more efficiently.

A virtual meeting on the draft report is set for Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. A staff presentation on the findings and recommendations of the report will be followed by a public comment period.

Other recommendations related to operations and maintenance. While the county found that maintenance standards and practices are consistent with other jurisdictions, there is a need for more regular maintenance, particularly waste management.

The report also cites a need for more water sources, rule enforcement, and shade.

Comments will be accepted through April 23. They can be submitted by email to [email protected] or through the dog park study website.

Photo via DC Bulldog Meetup/Facebook, map via Fairfax County Park Authority

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