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Montgomery Parks To Eliminate Dog Park Permit Fee

County dogs will soon be able to frolic for free at the department's five public dog parks.

County dog owners have one more gift coming their way this holiday season, courtesy the Montgomery County Department of Parks – the annual $40 dog park permit fee is no more.

The fee, which was instituted in July 2010, may have been keeping some dog owners away from the department’s five dog parks, said parks spokeswoman Melissa Chotiner.

While parks officials don’t have numbers indicating use of the parks has declined, “anecdotally, we were hearing from park managers saying they were noticing the use has gone down since the permit fee was started,” Chotiner said.

The fee will be eliminated effective in January, and the department will look into ways to make up the lost revenue, according to a parks statement.

The fee was who told Patch it was too expensive and said more maintenance was needed at the parks.

Some said they had stopped using the parks altogether since the fee was implemented.

“These facilities are really very important to the residents of the county,” Chotiner said. “We know there’s a demand and we want to make them as accessible as possible. If the permit fee was any kind of financial barrier, we wanted to do away with that.”

The parks “have come to serve as ‘backyards’ for many residents as our county continues to urbanize,” Parks Department Director Mary Bradford said in a statement.

A survey conducted as part of the 2012 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, which provides guidance for county recreation needs for the next 10 years, pointed to a need for as many as 12 more dog parks on park property.

Parks officials are researching which areas of the county have the greatest need for new dog parks, Chotiner said.

Montgomery Parks’ five dog parks are located in Black Hill Regional Park, Cabin John Regional Park, Olney Manor Recreational Park, Ridge Road Recreational Park and Wheaton Regional Park.

Are you happy to see the dog park permit fee go? Where would you like to see a new dog park in the county? Tell us in the comments.

lola December 27, 2012 at 06:30 PM
No i think we should have to pay a fee, who going to clean up the park?
Dog Owner December 27, 2012 at 06:40 PM
This was a poorly devised plan from the start. It is frustrating that Ms. Chotiner and Ms. Bradford, to whom I sent an unanswered e-mail in July 2010 on this issue, seem surprised that a $40 fee led to decreased use of the parks. I still would love to know, as I asked Ms. Bradford over two years ago, how they landed on $40.
Kelly Reed December 27, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I think this is a smart idea. I stopped using the parks as soon as the fee was implemented. I'm glad to see the county has re-thought this.
Ron Levine December 27, 2012 at 07:48 PM
The fee certainly kept me away from the dog parks... now that the fee is being discontinued, I can't wait to take my dog to the dog parks in Montgomery County... I hope they open more dog parks, especially near the Takoma Park area.... Ron Levine
D. Berger December 27, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Public Okoheelee Park in southern Florida has a fantastic dog park known as Pooch Pines. There's a large fenced-in area with grass and trees for large dogs and a slightly smaller, adjacent fenced-in area for smaller dogs. Both sides are mostly level, have lots of grass, a concrete/looping walking path, and several benches shaded by trees. Every Wednesday the dog park is closed for maintenance, and the public, who uses the dog park frequently, is not charged for its upkeep...that's what local taxes are for. I went to Cabin John Park once since it opened -- before the fee was implemented. My small-breed dog, who has patella issues (and had corrective surgery), cannot run around let alone stably walk on the wood chips in the small dog side (she can, however, run like the wind on grass), and I slipped and nearly got hurt on them myself. Also, the small dog side is, for some unknown reason, on a sloped hill...not conducive to running and play; I noticed dogs avoided the hill. The small dog side at Cabin John wasn't planned well at all, and I wouldn't pay even $1 out of pocket to use it. They need to look at Okoheelee dog park as an appropriate model.
lori h December 28, 2012 at 08:52 AM
seriously? er um, you clean up after your own pet?!
Joan Anders December 28, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Are u suppose to clean up after your dog when it's running around? What if u don't see it poop? Do all the dogs run around in the same area where other dogs poop? Seriously I would like to know because I would have to drive to get there and don't want my precious running around and stepping in something.
Donna Schneider December 28, 2012 at 11:25 PM
I wish all the parks would have more parks divided for small dogs.
Lezlie Crosswhite December 28, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Yes, of course you are supposed to clean up after your dog. If you don't happen to see it, believe me another owner will let you know! It's a good idea to keep your eye on your dog in the park anyway, to nip in the bud any personality conflicts between the dogs, and to make sure your dog is behaving. Yes, all the dogs run in the same area where they poop. That's why the owner is responsible for cleaning it up.
Marnie December 29, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I'm please that the County is encouraging the use of dog parks by eliminating the fee. It would be wonderful if the County would add new dog parks, and it would be great to have one closer by, possibly in Norwood Park, where many dog owners already bring their dogs.

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