CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA

MEMORANDUM

 

 

DATE:          January 3, 2011

 

TO:               Mark Antonio, City Manager 

 

FROM:         Rebecca Munden-Correa, Director of Parks and Recreation

 

SUBJECT:   Discussion of Allowing Dogs at Joseph Scavo Park

                                                                                                                                         CR#096/10

 

PURPOSE

 

The City Commission to consider the possibility of allowing dogs, on a trial basis, at Joseph Scavo Park, located at 900 Three Islands Boulevard.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

Per the City of Hallandale Beach Code of Ordinances, Chapter 6, Sec. 6-5, Animals not Permitted in Public Parks or on Beaches; Exceptions, no person owning or having charge, care, custody or control of any animal shall cause, permit or allow the animal into or upon any public park or beach in the city.  However, this provision shall not apply to guide dogs or service dogs, as specified in F.S. § 413.08, or to parkways, wayside parks or other park areas in which dogs are specifically authorized by the appropriate governmental entity having custody and control of such park area (Code 1980, § 6-5).

 

The establishment of dog parks within various City parks was considered by the City Commission due to requests by City residents.  Currently, there is one City of Hallandale Beach Dog Park located at Golden Isles Park which opened February 23, 2009.  The site includes a litter station, one connected water fountain (allowing the use by both humans – at the higher end and dogs- at the lower end of the fountain), benches, trash can, rules sign and a double entrance gate to protect other park patrons.  When the City Commission approved the construction of a dog park at Golden Isles Park, there were also two future sites for dog parks discussed, Peter Bluesten Park and B.F. James Park.  However, at the time, members of the Palms of Hallandale Beach Community Coalition stated that they did not want a dog park located at BF James Park, and the City Commission voted to discontinue consideration of this site on July 29, 2008.

 

To be consistent with Chapter 6, Section 6-5 of the City Code of Ordinances, at the June 3, 2009 Commission Meeting the City Commission adopted, by a 5/0 vote, a Motion permitting dogs to enter into those portions of City Parks designated now and in the future as dog parks per the rules and regulations established for dog parks.

 

During the February 17, 2010 Commission meeting, and following requests by residents and pet owners, the City Commission approved on a 5/0 vote the establishment of a dog park at Joseph Scavo Park at a cost not to exceed $75,000 and authorized the city manager to select the appropriate location and amenities for said park.  During this same time frame - March 3, 2010 - the City Commission awarded a contract to Bermello, Ajamill & Partners, Inc. to be hired as the City’s consultants to develop a Citywide Parks Master Plan.  At the time, staff believed that the consultants had good ideas with regards to the establishment of a Dog Park at Joseph Scavo Park and decided it was best to incorporate the residents, Parks Board, park patrons and the consultants’ recommendations into the design of Joseph Scavo Park.  Therefore, the construction of the Dog Park as Joseph Scavo Park was placed on hold with the understanding that, should the residents and park patrons so desire, the Joseph Scavo Park Dog Park would be a priority to be undertaken once the Master Plan was adopted.

 

Community opinions with regards to the establishment of a Dog Park at Joseph Scavo Park have been heard at Community Forum meetings, Parks Forum meetings and a Parks Master Plan meeting, and the opinions seem to be divided, with equal amount of park patrons calling for dogs to be allowed at the park and other patrons against allowing the presence of dogs at the park.

 

In order to reach consensus amongst residents and patrons, it has been suggested to establish – on a trial basis – an area within Joseph Scavo Park were dogs could be permitted as long as they are kept on a leash, and under the responsibility of the pet owner.  Other suggested option has been to establish a temporary dog park, which would be fenced in and include all amenities included within a permanent dog park. However, it should be noted that either one of these temporary options will come with a price tag, as described below under the Discussion section of this report.

 

The City Attorney’s office has advised that if the City wishes to simply open certain areas/sections of a City’s park to dogs, the City Commission may do so by motion as authority is provided for this purpose in Chapter 6, Section 6-5 of the City’s Code of Ordinances.  Section 6-5 specifically allows dogs in park areas/sections of the City parks when it has been authorized by the governmental entity.  Therefore, should the City Commission desire to open an entire park to allow dogs on a trial basis, the adoption of an Ordinance providing for a partial moratorium of the prohibition of dogs on the entire park would be appropriate.  Since this would be on a trial basis, the ordinance would have a sunset provision of six (6) months or otherwise for the long term.

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

There are benefits to allowing dogs in parks, which include socialization and a sense of community, as the dogs and their owners share a common bond.  In addition, the benefits of exercise for both the dog and the owner can be positive both physically and mentally.  Often times, people moving into a community will look to see if there are parks, and specifically dog parks, in the area that they are considering moving into, which is good for community development.  For many people, their dog is their companion and spending time together is invaluable.

 

Nevertheless, from a safety and liability standpoint, staff’s recommendation is that dogs should not be permitted at regular parks, as it is not prudent to co-mingle animals and people at a location used for recreational purposes.  Most parks which are open to the general public, including Joseph Scavo Park, have playground equipment.  Parents and children who use these facilities should be able to do so in a safe environment.  It is true that there are many owners of dogs who are able and willing to control their animals, but there are owners who are not willing and/or capable of controlling their pets, which may lead to an unsafe environment.  It is a known fact that at times dogs can be unpredictable and difficult to control.

 

Staff has contacted Risk Managers and Parks and Recreation Directors from surrounding municipalities to discuss their parks facilities and how they manage to fulfill the requests from pet owners to allow their pets at parks while ensuring the safety of other park patrons.  Risk Managers and Parks and Recreation Directors have advised that their respective cities do have established one or more dog parks. However, these facilities are either stand alone facilities with distinct signage indicating “Dog Park,” or they are dog areas located within a park cordoned off from the general park with a separate fence and gate: this is in lieu of allowing dogs on a leash.

 

There are several additional concerns that are raised by opening up an entire park for leashed dogs.  First, this is a contested issue for the community, with presidents and park patrons voicing strong opinions on both sides.  Second, dog owners need to be responsible for picking-up after their pets(s), and because Joseph Scavo Park is not a staffed-facility, enforcement will be self-policing by the community and could lead to confrontations among neighbors.  Third, issues could arise if owners either purposefully took their dog off the leash to let the pet(s) run and play or if the dog should escape from its collar and end-up biting either a human or another dog.  Fourth, costs for both options will be incurred for litter stations, signage and a water fountain.  Fifth, with either a leashed park or fenced area, staff maintenance will increase including emptying cans, spraying for fleas and ticks and re-soding worn out areas.  Finally, owners would be responsible for following applicable rules, though it should be noted that there might be some patrons who will not adhere to the posted rules.

 

With this in mind, and taking into consideration recommendations from other Parks Directors and Risk Managers, public safety, as well as pet owners’ desires to share with their pets, staff has determined that a controlled fenced environment is preferred for pets and their owners to share parks facilities.  However, it should be noted that either one of these temporary options will come with a price tag.  For example, estimated costs for the construction and maintenance of a fenced-in dog park are as follows:

 

Operational Costs for the Addition of the Dog Park are as follows:

ITEM

COST

Site Preparation

$2,500.00

Fencing to include double gate and area separated for smaller dogs

$40,000.00 (Staff Site)

$22,000.00 (Advisory Board Site)

Dog Litter Station

$700.00

Water Fountain (Human and Dog)

$4,500.00

Benches and garbage cans

$5,000.00

Rules Signage

$1,000.00

Concrete and Plumbing for Water Fountain

$1,000.00

Litter bags

$1,800.00 (yearly)

Sod (as needed)

$1,200.00 (yearly)

Spraying

$1,200.00 (yearly)

Total Cost

$58,900 (Staff Site)

$39,700 (Advisory Board Site)

 

 

Proposed Construction Time Schedule:

Work Required

Frequency

Site Preparation:

To include removing dead/sick trees and sod

 

2 weeks

Installation of Fencing

3 weeks

Installation of Amenities

2 weeks

 

Ongoing Maintenance and Staffing Required for the Dog Park:

Work Required

Frequency

Cut and detail grass/landscaping

Twice a month

Visual Inspection of area

Three times a week

Empty garbage cans/litter station

Four times a week

Spray for insects

Once a month

Sod (as needed)

Once a year

 

Accordingly, in order to control costs, staff’s recommendation is to defer the construction of any temporary dog parks until such time the Parks’ Master Plan is complete, presented to the residents and adopted by the City Commission.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

The City Commission consider staff’s recommendation to defer the construction of a temporary facility until the City’s Parks Master Plan is complete and adopted and community consensus regarding the establishment of a permanent dog park at Joseph Scavo Park is reached.    

 

Reviewed:

 

___________________________________                                          _____________

Mark Antonio, City Manager                                                                              Date

 

 

___ Approved                               ___ Denied                                       ___ Hold for Discussion

 

 

Comments:

 

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