Letter: On dogs, Friends of Pastorius Park responds

Posted 2/9/23

For the record, neither I nor the Friends of Pastorius Park think that it is “just fine” for people to flout City ordinances regarding dogs at Pastorius Park.

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Letter: On dogs, Friends of Pastorius Park responds


For the record, neither I nor the Friends of Pastorius Park think that it is “just fine” for people to flout City ordinances regarding dogs at Pastorius Park (or any other City ordinance for that matter). Our support of City ordinances, as a matter of public safety and health, is clearly stated on our website: friendsofpastorius.org. FoPP is dedicated to helping  make the Park a better place that everyone can enjoy. We do this in many ways, but to be clear, FoPP neither creates nor enforces City ordinances, including off-leash dogs, nor do we advocate that anyone ignore these laws.

If, as Miles Orvell stated in a Jan. 26 letter to the Local, city ordinances such as those requiring that dogs be leashed and their waste picked up will “never be enforced”, what makes him think that people who disregard these ordinances in the first place will comply with using a dog run? Highly unlikely, and again, not very enforceable. Never mind that the installation of such a caged space would bring with it related issues such as dog aggression, maintenance and liability responsibilities, soil erosion, and disruption of Pastorius Park’s historic landscape, but the introduction of such "improvements" would, in my opinion, simply introduce an eyesore into the Park that is unmanageable and would ultimately destroy this historic landscape that the community has worked so hard to preserve for nearly a century. 

A great deal of work and investment goes into the Park and FoPP with its troupe of hard-working volunteers and community supporters go above and beyond to maintain, preserve and restore this historic landscape. In the past few years, this has included the removal of invasive, overgrown, and dying legacy plants, thus opening the Park to long-lost views of Pastorius’ grounds and all the new trees and native shrubs.

All of this gets us back to individual civic responsibility. In addition to the hard work, investment, and public outreach that the Friends group performs and oversees year-round, FoPP often endeavors to remind its visitors of their individual civic responsibilities. 

The most recent example of this is in the new signage that we recently installed at the Park, appealing to visitors to respect the Park, its hard-working volunteers and their fellow Park visitors, and to obey City ordinances, including leash and poop laws. Some will comply. Some will not. There is no way to control everyone’s behavior. All of us see this every day when we are out driving and witness people routinely speed through stop signs and run red lights.

But by and large, Pastorius Park is NOT the dystopia Mr. Orvell and others would have us believe. The Park is a well-used and cherished gathering spot for our community and beyond. Last year alone, there were three weddings, an engagement party, kids’ birthday parties, a graduation party, and a First Holy Communion family get-together. Every Saturday morning, summer through fall, there is a sing-along event for kids and their parents in the Millman amphitheater area of the Park. Moms and dads often bring their children down to the pond to see the turtles and ducks sunning themselves on the turtle perch. The Park hosts free evening concerts and an occasional gathering of bluegrass musicians in the summer. Older friends bring lawn chairs and hang out in the shade. And yes, kids DO kick around soccer balls at Pastorius, sail boats on the pond, ice skate, and play hockey. No archery or guns at the Park, Mr Orvell.

Tracy Gardner

Friends of Pastorius Park