Trial period OK’d for cycling and off-leash dogs in Oakmont’s Dark Hollow Woods
Dark Hollow Woods in Oakmont has gone to the dogs and bicyclists — temporarily.
Council approved a six-month trial period, May 1 to Oct. 31, to test off-leash times and cycling in the publicly owned park near Crystal Drive.
The current policy prohibits bikes in the park and dogs from roaming free.
“We know there are a lot of people that want use the park,” Councilwoman Leah Powers said. “I think this will allow more people the opportunity. Since it’s just a trial, if there are major issues and this isn’t working out, we’ll be able to revise or go back to the way it was. I think it’s a good idea.”
Borough recreation board member Ryan Erlich proposed the idea last winter. He went before council a few times and received public input on the plan at recreation board meetings.
Some residents expressed support while others wanted to keep dogs on-leash. There was more bark about the dog issue than the bikes.
Council approved a compromise April 15.
The park will be split in two for dog owners.
In its southwest section, there will be off-leash times from dawn until 1 p.m. and on-leash from 1 p.m. to dusk.
The opposite times will be in effect in the northeast section.
Bikes would be permitted throughout the park after 3 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends and holidays.
New signage will be posted at the park by the end of this month informing people of the changes.
“We’ve put in a lot of work into trying to find a good solution for all users of the woods,” Erlich said. “I think this is a good solution, but a trial’s a good way to make sure that it is.
”We would collect data along the way to try and figure out if there are issues. If there were (any) we’d try to address and fix those. Ideally, (we’d like) both off-leash dogs and bikes being allowed in the park in some way on a permanent basis.”
Council President William Benusa said he supports the changes, but expressed concern about cycling along the trails in the northern side of the park by the Fairways neighborhood.
“I understand riding a bike in the woods is inherently dangerous,” Benusa said. “I’m looking at the inexperienced people who may need a little guidance such as going down the hills on a bike when its very tough to dismount.”
Recreation board members said they plan to install split-rail fencing in the area for added safety. Fencing and signage are projected to cost $600.
Railroad tie steps in the woods also will be removed, and that portion of the site would be regraded for easier accessibility.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .