Basically the idea is that rather than building a fence and designating it as permanent off-leash area, the city would declare that a certain area in a certain park was an off-leash area during certain hours. In a rotating system, this designation would shift between different parks on different days so that each neighborhood gets its share of off-leash time.
There are two major reasons (and a handful of smaller ones) that this is probably insufficient.
- First is the problem of safety. If an area is not permanently designated for off-leash, it is unlikely to get a fence. Without a fence there will always be problems with dogs getting out. It would only take one squirrel to get their attention and we could end up with dogs in the street, lost dogs, even dogs hit by cars. Ann Arbor has the resources for a safe solution and we deserve it.
- The other major problem I foresee is scheduling. Having an off-leash area available for a few hours a week is not sufficient. We like to take our dogs to play every day. We've always done that when we lived in other towns and we would do it now if it were possible. So far there is no guarantee that a rotating hours system would include an off-leash area during all park hours. There is no reason to believe that dog time wouldn't be pushed to the most undesirable hours of the week, restricted to just one or two days city-wide, or subject to change at the whim of the city.
I do like the idea of off-leash hours insofar as it brings dog park to several neighborhoods at least once a week. However, this cannot be the primary solution to the problem. Safety has to be the primary concern and this means that we need fenced areas. Ideally there would be small neighborhood off-leash areas all over town in addition to the large Swift Run facility. That would allow people to walk and still be safe and available all the time. There is certainly the demand and resources for that, just not the will.
Let the City know that you demand a safe and convenient solution for the dog park problem.