Friends of North Asheville Dog Park Community Meeting Minutes

JULY 18, 2013 6:30 PM

A community meeting was held to talk about a proposal for a dog park in North Asheville. The meeting was publicized in advance through local media and was attended by 129 people, including City of Asheville management staff, a member of Asheville City Council, and members of the community – the majority residing in the 28804 zip code.

Asheville City Councilmember Chris Pelly opened the meeting by restating its purpose – to discuss the proposed dog park and hear comments, concerns and questions from the community - and by addressing a concern about a recent eviction notice issued to the tenants of the Killian House. The owner of the property authorized Pelly to announce that the eviction had been suspended, and stressed the importance of noting that the matter between the two parties was unrelated to the dog park.

Pelly provided a history and timeline of the North Asheville dog park effort, which began last fall with a small group of interested residents organized by Connie Scotchie. He gave a summary of the criteria that makes a site suitable for a dog park, and listed the sites already considered and rejected. Eventually, a representative of Ark Development approached the group about the possibility of donating property on Beaverdam.

Pelly reported that representatives from the Friends of North Asheville Dog Park have met with residents of the Hills of Beaverdam and the Preservation Society; now it’s time to talk to the general public about the park.

Dr. Dave Thompson provided an overview of the benefits of dog parks to dogs, their owners, and their neighborhoods. Kim Brophey made a presentation on the positive impacts that off-leash dog parks have on dogs’ social adjustment and citizenship, the reduction of negative health and mental health problems that dogs can suffer as a result of confinement, and the positive role off-leash socialization can play in reducing the dysfunction between a dog’s typical environment and its genetics.

FNADP member, Beaverdam resident, and healthy communities advocate Bob Roepnack provided an overview of the issues and considerations related to the Beaverdam site, including its evolution, opportunities, and challenges.  Roepnack described meeting with the property owner who was interested in exploring the donation of the site that included approx. 8 acres; and, the presentation to Asheville City Council to secure support and matching funds for the site design work. There are challenges to consider including: traffic, including its impact on the entry/exit to the site; environmental considerations; preservation of the historic house located on the site; rules for the park; fundraising to build and maintain the park and parking; as well as opportunities such as: planning for low-impact, multi-uses and greenway connections, so community members will ultimately be able to walk or ride bikes through the Beaverdam Valley to their community park.

Councilmember Pelly then opened the meeting to comments, concerns and questions from the audience. City staff, including Shannon Tuch (Development Services), McCray Coates (Stormwater Services), Debbie Ivester and Al Kopf (Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources), Jeff Moore (Traffic Engineering), and Brenda Sears (Animal Services) were present and available to assist.  Several statements were made in support of the dog park that included a need for one locally in the absence of any other public dog park in North Asheville, as well as testimonials to its benefits to the community, dog owners, and their dogs. The majority of those who expressed concerns mentioned traffic congestion and safety, the preservation of the Killian House, and the environmental impact of dog waste.  Councilmember Pelly thanked the group for its participation and civility.

FNADP member, Joy Flora, reviewed the handout on the dog park timeline and next steps. The next meeting of FNADP will be on September 9 at 7:00 p.m. at the Animal Hospital of North Asheville.  Contact information for the group was included on the handout.

The meeting adjourned at 8:15.

Recorded by
Nancy Alenier