Council To Consider Off-Leash Policies Early in 2007

Following more than a year of analysis and debate, the City Council voted to approve a $500,000 bond to help stabilize the ecology of Ward Acres, our largest public park. The bond will pay for the removal of invasive species, principally vines, that currently threaten the park’s health, and will also cover subsequent maintenance efforts. This measure represents a substantial reduction in our staff’s recommended allocation for the park, which also included wetlands improvements, trail restoration, interpretive signage, and other measures aimed at enhancing Ward Acres’ environmental health and accessibility. These other priorities may be explored in the future. Early next year, the Council will consider a policy of on and off leash hours, intended to make the park appealing both for dog owners, who are the park’s principal users today, and others who may be uncomfortable around unleashed animals. We have not yet reached consensus on the precise content of such a policy. While Ward Acres has proven to be a challenging and somewhat controversial subject, and while broader improvements at the park have been deferred for now, I am pleased that the City has taken a positive first step to protect and preserve a valuable open-space asset.