Burke-area dog lovers have been working for more than two years to bring an off-leash dog park to the Braddock District, and a public hearing next week could bring the idea closer to reality.
“An off-leash dog area allows dogs to socialize and run without being intrusive and be a problem,” said Russ Rosen, who is a member of Braddock Dogs, a group formed to promote creating an off-leash, fenced-in dog park. “It gives them an opportunity to get some exercise and be around other dogs and let people who like dogs to meet in another area.”
The master plan for the 6.2-acre Monticello Park would include space for an off-leash dog area, as well as a play area for children and a skate park, park authority officials said.
Monticello Park is an undeveloped open space on Guinea Road between the intersections of Burke Road and Bronte Drive.
“A master plan helps set the expectations for what will be developed at a space,” said Sandy Stallman, manager of park planning with the Park Authority.
Fairfax County has off-leash dog parks in Reston, Oakton, Herndon, Mount Vernon, Chantilly and Annandale. The closest one for most Burke residents is at 7550 Reservation Dr., just southeast of Burke Lake Park.
Rosen said the South Run facility "is a significant drive for most people. It’s not convenient to go there for a half hour for a walk or a run,” said Rosen, who has two dogs, Ovi and Crosby, and was involved in the planning stages from the ground up.
Braddock Dogs Partnership
Plans for the park began two years ago when members of the Kings Park West community started bouncing around the idea of a park for their neighborhood.
The group worked with the park authority and looked at about 40 potential locations for a dog park in the district before settling on the Monticello spot.
Park officials began developing a master plan for the park to include an off-leash dog area. Though the county provides the land for off-leash dog parks, facilities are maintained and funded by sponsorship groups. Burke residents formed Braddock Dogs as that group.
“Very often we try and forge partnerships because of the fiscal realities that we deal with,” said Judy Pedersen, public information officer for the Park Authority.
Braddock Dogs currently has 20 members who are active, and another 100 who have expressed interest, Rosen said.
“We believe that there is a significant interest in it after talking to dog owners in and around the area,” Rosen said. “There is more-than sufficient interest to maintain the park.”
Braddock District Supervisor John Cook has organized several meetings already to help answer questions about the proposed parks. Residents who live closest to Monticello Park initially had concerns about site maintenance.
“There have a number of people very much people in favor and there are several who are opposed — particularly neighbors of the site,” Cook said. “Those who were in support tried to allay the concerns of the neighbors. My role has been to sponsor community meetings and encourage people to get involved in the dialogue.”
“Ultimately it’s an issue of the park authority. I don’t believe it should be my decision,” Cook said. “We will see what happens on Monday.”
Monday’s meeting will be the next step in the park’s process. Officials from the park authority will make a presentation about the proposed master plan, and then officials will take public comments.
After the meeting, residents have a 30-day public comment period in which they can write letters or email officials about the Monticello Park plan.
A mock-up of the proposal is available for interested residents on the Fairfax County website.