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Is A Dog Park Fee Fair?

Not far from where I live a new park complete with an enclosed dog run opened about a year ago. It's great because all the...

Horst Hoefinger  |  Apr 27th 2009

Not far from where I live a new park complete with an enclosed dog run opened about a year ago. It’s great because all the other enclosed dog parks are quite a bit further, the place is always busy.

When I read an article this morning about a park in Novato, CA wanting to charge dog owners an annual fee to use their dog park I thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss with Dogsters.

Novato, which is deep into devising ways to cut its $3 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year, could become the first city in Marin to impose a “pay to play” fee for its public dog park.

“Most people don’t see that we’re having difficulty in this city with our money issues,” Councilwoman Madeline Kellner said. “People are just not aware. We’re asking people to help us here. But anytime you take something that’s been free and start charging for it, people are going to get upset.”

Shinault said the city would like to have a dog park membership program up and running by July 1. If at least 67 people are willing to pay $75 for annual dog park membership, the parks department would reach its goal of $5,000 in revenue for the next fiscal year. Or, a generous resident or local business could step up with a sponsorship offer.

As you can expect, users of the dog park have not been very receptive to the idea of a new fee. The city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department director, Pam Shinault, has had to deal with about 50 expense reductions in the parks budget. This has affected many groups, no one group is being singled out. However, I do wonder why cutbacks for other groups haven’t resulted in any kind of additional fees for them.

In a time when people are out of work, losing their homes, dealing with the increasingly high cost of living, being able to take your dog for some fun at the local dog park shouldn’t become a luxury for only those that can afford an imposed fee.

What to you think about the proposed fee? Give me a bark.

*Clarence and buddy at the dog park.

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