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City proposes moving Mt. Washington dog park

| Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 10:57 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Beth Goodwin of Mt. Washington takes her dog, Gideon, nearly every evening to the dog park at Olympia Park in Mt. Washington on Wednesday, July 9, 2014.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Carly Brog, 23, of Mt. Washington plays with Ender at the dog park at Olympia Park in Mt. Washington on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Brog says she visits the dog park nearly every day.

Mayor Bill Peduto on Wednesday announced a “compromise” in a flap over a controversial Mt. Washington dog park, but neighbors and dog owners said they have mixed feelings about the proposed changes.

At issue is a fenced-in portion of Olympia Park that the city spent $60,000 to build in 2012 for dog owners who wanted a place where it's safe to allow their pets to roam off leash.

But neighbors have been feuding with park users, complaining about the noise of barking dogs, odors and rude dog walkers. They say the dog park is too close to their homes.

Peduto wants to relocate the dog park to wooded trails next to Olympia Park, but it isn't clear whether it would have a fence.

“I realize that many people in Mt. Washington wanted a dog park removed from the community, but today my administration announced a compromise that will let one stay,” the mayor said in a statement.

Opponents say they fear the neighborhood could be losing a contained area where dogs can run free. They say the existing park provides a place for neighbors to socialize while their pets frolic. Eliminating it will be a hardship for senior citizens who can't traverse trails and others who are hesitant to visit an unlit, wooded area at night.

“They gave us their word that there would be a dog park in Mt. Washington,” said Adam Paul Causgrove, 30, of Mt. Washington, a dog owner who helped get the dog park built. “Lo and behold, they're ripping up a fence and shoving people into the woods. If you want to take them off leash, good luck, because who knows if you're going to find deer and turkeys and your dog is going to run off.”

Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty said the administration won't decide whether to put a fence in the new area — or remove the existing one — until it studies other dog parks. There are dog parks in the South Side, Riverview Park, Frick Park and Lawrenceville. The Mt. Washington park will remain open until changes are made, McNulty said.

Patricia Ward, 58, who lives across the street from Olympia Park, said she and her neighbors welcome the news. She said she hopes the fence is removed permanently.

“It got out of control, and it became a real community issue,” she said. “We all love dogs. I have two. We just thought it was a bad location.”

City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith of Westwood, who represents Mt. Washington, said disagreements about the dog park have divided the neighborhood. Kail-Smith said she hopes the new park will mend rifts.

“There's a lot of people that really love that park, and they are the kind of people that we want to live in Pittsburgh,” she said. “We should continue to work with the public and come up with a plan for a really great dog park there.”

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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