Dog Park Redux

At least 100 people showed up at the Old West Austin Neighborhood Association's March 5 meeting to discuss the future of West Austin Park, which many neighborhood dog owners have used as an off-leash area for 20 years. In June 2000, the City Council approved a neighborhood plan for Old West Austin that included a request for a six-month trial period to determine whether the southern end of the park could work as a leash-free area. But in recent months, PARD patrol officers have stepped up enforcement of the park's off-leash ordinance, giving tickets to several dog owners and in one case, arresting a resident who claims his dogs weren't off-leash. Several city luminaries attended the March 5 gathering, including Acting City Manager Toby Futrell, PARD Director Jesus Olivares, and Acting Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald, and by the end enough neighbors had signed up for a team that will try to implement the trial period and conduct an evaluation with the city's cooperation. McDonald said Austin has never before mixed loose animals with kids, and that whatever happens at West Austin Park "could have an impact on parks around the city." Speaking on behalf of themselves and each other, neighbors emphasized that most dog owners who use the park responsibly control their pets and pick up droppings. Since the city can't transfer liability onto OWANA, however, it would have to put up a fence costing $18,000 to $20,000 to contain the dog area, McDonald said. Participants generally appeared pleased with the meeting's outcome, but a few asked why OWANA had to decide again on an item already approved in their neighborhood plan. Such is the way in Austin.

Meanwhile, the West Austin Youth Association, for whom PARD reserved West Austin Park for tee-ball games (without telling residents), has decided not to use the park. "We would like to use the field, we appreciated the opportunity to use the field, but the free-roaming dogs and the amount of waste they leave behind is not conducive to having kids participate at the park," said Executive Director Greg Rives. "There are safety and health risks that we can't accept." WAYA has other fields at its disposal and will make do, he adds.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Lauri Apple
Will Council Take a Stand on PATRIOT Act?
Will Council Take a Stand on PATRIOT Act?
Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman's pro-civil-liberties resolution stalls on the dais

Aug. 15, 2003

With Minimal Drama, Saltillo Project Lurches Forward
With Minimal Drama, Saltillo Project Lurches Forward
Capital Metro hires a planner and appoints community advisors for the rail-yard redevelopment

Aug. 8, 2003

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle