Dog Run letter to Councilman Squilla and Commissioner Ott-Lovell

6-2016 dog run letter


June 23, 2016

Dear Councilman Squilla and Commissioner Ott-Lovell:

We, the Directors of the Dickinson Square West Civic Association, have received, considered, and discussed your June 16 letter, regarding the proposal for a dog run in Dickinson Square Park.

While we remain firmly neutral on the concept of a dog run within Dickinson Square Park, we believe this topic has shed light on a serious issue with the City of Philadelphia’s due process (or lack thereof) for the creation of dog runs on city property. Members of the Parks Department and City Government have publicly admitted that there is no official policy or procedure relating to the creation of dog runs in our city. Since there is clearly a large number of people interested in creating such an amenity in our neighborhood (and perhaps elsewhere), we feel that they should have the opportunity to apply for one through a fair and transparent due process with the City of Philadelphia. Based on the way the Dickinson Square Park proposal was handled by the City, we see that such a process does NOT currently exist. Therefore, we strongly encourage the Parks Department and City Government to create a public list of guidelines and requirements that must be met for the creation of dog runs as well as a formal, transparent process by which Philadelphians can apply for such an amenity in their neighborhoods. Furthermore, we feel that such a process should enable all neighbors, including those opposed to dog runs, to voice their opinions and concerns in a formal, organized setting.

To further clarify our position…

Our primary goal for the public meeting we held in May was to enlighten our neighbors about the PROCESS for creating a dog run somewhere in our neighborhood, not necessarily in Dickinson Square Park. Unfortunately, the meeting seemed to present more questions than answers, despite the fact that the following list of queries was emailed to officials from the Parks Department, City Council and the Commissioner’s office before the meeting, a printed copy was handed to the Parks officials at the meeting, and the list was again emailed to the parties above after the meeting. To date, we have not received clear answers to any of these questions:

1. What City elected officials, departments, agencies, etc. approved the dog runs now on City properties? City Council? Parks?
2. Today, what City elected officials, departments, agencies, etc. are charged with approving dog runs on City property? Code reference?
3. What is the role of the Executive Committee of Parks vis a vis the Commission and the Commissioner?
4. Are there design standards required for the construction of a dog run? What is the role, if any, of L&I in that regard?
5. How specific should a proposal be, in order to receive consideration? Site plans, etc.?
6. What is the prescribed procedure for obtaining approval? Code reference?
7. When and before what body will public hearings be held?
8. When approval for a dog run is granted:
a. To what entity will pledged construction monies be paid?
b. Should a “friends”, non-profit, or similar group be created to manage ongoing monies?

We look forward to further dialogue with you on this matter and to facilitate a process of engaging with those in our neighborhood who are strongly interested in this topic.

Very truly yours,

Directors, Dickinson Square West Civic Association
Kathryn Bednarchik
Jeff Boettcher
Christopher Brick
George Kull
Josephine Rivera
Karen Rose
Ted Savage
Heather Shultz
Steve Silvasy

Copy to: Commissioner Perri
Jordan Roth
Friends of Dickinson Square
Pennsport Civic Association