Dispute over dog park

The recently established dog park in Edgemead has drawn flak from a nearby nursery school and residents of a retirement village.

A new dog park in Edgemead has drawn flak for being set up next to a pre-school and retirement-village residents, and they say the City failed to notify them about it.

The Farmersfield Retirement Village residents say they were not notified of the councillor’s plans to have a dog park right near their homes.

The dog park was opened in December last year. Ward 5 councillor Helen Carstens claims Edgemead residents had asked for it for several years after a similar park was opened in Adam Tas Avenue, Bothasig.

The City’s recreation and parks department settled on using Edgemead’s existing Sunnyside Park for the dog park, and it was funded out of the ward budget. There is children’s play equipment on one side and space on the other for people to walk their pets off-leash.

“The property is owned by the City’s parks department and they chose that area because it’s a hub of activity,” Ms Carsens said. “It’s quite central in the area, and there’s a school [Edgemead Pre-Primary], a church, cafe and a retirement village close by. Two days after the park was open, it was closed again after the adjusted level 3 regulations were put in place and going to parks was prohibited.”

However, residents living nearby say they did not get notices about it, and Pat Ross, a Farmersfield resident, said the park should not have been put near a retirement village and a nursery school.

“The Farmersfield cottages are a mere 3 metres from the dog park and our boundary fence is the dogs’ favourite place for their daily poo. The smell at times, particularly at prime time, 6pm to 8pm, stinks, necessitating the use of toilet spray to eradicate the pong in our cottages.

“The nursery school unfortunately has very open wire fencing and the male dogs urinate up against this fence directly into the children’s playing area. I am sure parents would be less than impressed that the dog urine and faeces along the fence contain disease-causing bacteria and parasites, which are harmful to humans particularly children,” she said.

Marga Phillipson, another Farmersfield resident, said that when she sits on her stoep, as she likes to do when she reads, she can smell the foul odours coming from the park.

“I have four dog turds right outside my house right now,” she said. “Most people that walk their dogs and take their dogs to that park don’t clean up after their dogs. And it’s frustrating that the councillor doesn’t believe us. Even during the restrictions, people kept coming to the park with their dogs. It’s not nice for us here because we have to endure this.”

The dog park was established on an existing park.

Hermana Mausling, chairwoman of the Edgemead Pre-Primary Schools Association, said having the dog park right next to their playground fence was a very big concern for them.

“Edgemead Pre-Primary was never consulted prior to opening of the dog park, which is strange seeing as though we share a fence with the dog park. The dog faeces that does not get picked up by the dog owners leaves a terrible stench right where our little four and five-year-olds play. The dog urine comes through the open fence and into our school ground. The fact that this is an ’off-leash’ dog park and our children are able to stick their small fingers through the fencing is causing a big safety concern,” she said.

Ms Carstens said that while she agreed that a lot of people did not carry packets to clean up after their dogs, the dog walkers at the park never left it in a state.

“I’ve been there a few times and there’s never a smell there. Most residents have received this park well, but we can’t be held to ransom by a few people who take issue with the park. This is a community park and has been in this position for over 25 years. There is a play section in the park with play equipment. There are many residents who took their dogs to this park before the dedicated off-leash area was established,” she said.

Other residents say that they have been waiting for a park like this in their area for many years. Sandra Ewers said she enjoyed taking her dog there and always picked up after her pet.

“I don’t want to downplay what the people close to there might be going through, especially because I don’t live near that park. It might be that there are those that are irresponsible and make life unbearable for those neighbours. But whenever I’m there, there aren’t many people with their pets and it’s always clean,” she said.

Ms Carstens conceded there were no dog-poo bins or signage in the park yet, but these would be added soon as the park had only recently opened.

Responding to the allegation that people had not been informed about the plan for the dog park, she said: “Communication was done through the various associations in the suburb.”

Farmersfield residents are adamant that they want the dog park gone and they want it gone fast. “We… want this unpleasant situation stopped immediately,” Ms Ross said, “and await the response of those involved in establishing this smelly park on our doorstep.”