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John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.

Cutting down trees in Grant Park to build a dog park?

  I have just heard that Scott Walker is arranging to cut down some trees in Grant Park in order to establish a dog park there. I saw this post  from the off leash dog park association news e-mail list. Here are the facts and a response that the ROMP Board President shared with us on the list that is very informative.

  Briefly, it's Warnimont Park, not Grant Park and this was funded  by profits  from selling off leash dog permits -- one of few profitable areas in the county budget and something that makes the parks. Also, trees that are removed are selectively chosen -- diseased and invasive  species -- along with planting new trees. The park system takes it very seriously.

  ROMP and the Parks Dept. have plans to open two more dog parks in 2010. We opened two new ones last year -- Currie and Estabrook. This is all part of the larger plan to  to open a couple of dog parks a year. Newer sites will not be as large as the Runway or Granville. They are smaller , more neighborhood/ community sized. Remember -- our goal is to have a system of off leash  DEA's  so that no matter where you live in the county, one is nearby.

   Grant Park was not on our list of sites. I think that the person is talking about Warnimont Park. Plans for a DEA have been in the works for the past year there.

   Regarding the funding... the county budget includes operational funding and capital funding. Anything new falls under capital funding. It's the operating budget that has taken the biggest hit but capital funding for new development is always available.  It's certainly not unlimited ,but each year the county funds new projects. The dog parks are funded by a permit-based system. The permit money collected  helps set the cost of maintaining the the dog parks. In a short time, our dog parks have turned a profit. The county is able to make money  off of them so naturally, from a business standpoint, this helps when it comes to them to decide on what they will fund out of the capital budget. They want to invest in things that have a long term impact on revenue for the county as well as things that an overwhelming majority of the community views as an asset.

  We do not want the dog parks to be viewed as negatively impacting the environment in terms of trees being cut down but the reality is. all sorts of projects can lead to the clearing of a site dedicated to recreation -- soccer fields, playgrounds, etc., not just dog parks. In the past couple of years  ROMP has paid for trees to be planted at the Runway. We limited in terms of trees there because of the flight zone but planted  what we could. At Estabrook Park, they had to clear some trees and other invasives but the county then planted  new trees at the site to replace the ones cut down. ROMP will work with the county on the site plans and see where new trees can be planted as well.

  The parks dept. are the real stewards of our parks. They care deeply about preserving them. Based on how decisions were made at Estabrook Park (environmental impact study, etc.) they do not make these decisions lightly. They look for diseased trees, invasives, etc. and then look at adding back where they can. It's not always ideal, but we try to maintain a balance.

Robin Barry

ROMP Board President

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