The Edge Effect

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Situation

I'm glad the dog park is finally a probably-maybe-definitely-kinda-sure-thing, but c'mon another meeting?! The Ann Arbor dog community has been trying to get a park for a decade now. It's just a few hundred feet of chain link fence and a couple of trash cans. It really shouldn't be that hard.

In fact, I suspect that there are more dogs in Ann Arbor than there are people who play tennis regularly. That - plus the fact that people will use a dog park on all but the most terrible weather days but a tennis court is only usable about eight months out of the year in Michigan - suggests to me that dog parks should be at least as highly prioritized as tennis courts.

Yet according to the Ann Arbor City Pros Plan, the City maintains the following Park facilities:

Parks 146
Acres 1918
Turf acres 564
Buildings 48
Ball Diamonds 82
Tennis Courts 63
Playground areas 70
Picnic Areas 53
Swimming Pools 4
Artificial Ice Rinks 2
18-hole Golf Courses 2
Hiking/Nature Trails Many
Canoe Liveries 2

Total facilities for dogs = 0
Fine for off-leash dog on public property - up to $500/dog

None of this is intended as a slight against tennis players or any other non-dog activity. My point is simply that a very large portion of the city wants facilities that are relatively inexpensive to build and maintain, fairly small for a city with so much parkland, and add value to neighborhoods.

If there were a contingent of jai-alai or cricket players the size of the dog contingent, it would make sense for the city to put a little money into those facilities. In fact, I know a group plays cricket informally at Pioneer High School, but they don't incur $500 fines and possible death by organizing informal games on unused baseball fields or parking lots.

Playing Frisbee with Sadie should NOT be a crime!