The Park Surface Issue Keeps Resurfacing!
Here is a summary and evaluation of the results from the last survey that was sent to the google group on May 26, 2011:
The wood chip survey results were somewhat interesting. There are 255
park users on the email list. 45 park users voted in total. 45
voters represents less than 20% of the park users on the email list.
The vote was 25 in favor and 17 against (3 abstained). Although 25
represents 59.5% in favor, with less than 20% of the park users who
are interested enough in the park to be on the email list abstaining
from the vote, I do not feel that 59.5% represents a consensus.
Furthermore, of the 45 voters only 13 were willing or able to do the
manual labor necessary. 25 of the voters were willing to donate
$25/year. 25 times $25 is $650. Even if everyone followed through
with donations, $650 is not enough money to hire workers regularly to
surface the park with wood chips and maintain them. There was no
agreement on convenient times for park maintenance - the 13 voters
willing to volunteer were split evenly.
Many of the comments indicated ambivalence around the wood chip issue
with many questions about alternative surfaces. Many of the reasons
given against wood chips prevent dogs from enjoying the park. These
reasons included dogs getting into fights, sanitary concerns, injured
paws, difficulty walking/running on the chips, concerns over
emergencies involving dogs that eat the chips, and lack of clean up
due to difficulty locating poop. The reasons given in favor of the
wood chips were primarily a matter of convenience or aesthetics.
These reasons included being able to use the park in the rain, and
keeping the dirt to a minimum. The only sanitary reason given in
favor was concern over standing water.
In terms of our relationship with the community and the Parks
Department, I discussed the issue at length with our park manager.
Coincidentally, he owns 3 dogs. In spite of the fact that he is
"graded" based on the appearance of his parks, he is not in favor of
the chips because he feels they are not much fun for dogs. Further,
he feels that they cause sanitary problems and are difficult to
maintain. He is also concerned about the risk of injury to
pedestrians, who must navigate the chips that fall on the sidewalks
around the park. In addition, one of the top people in charge of the
Brooklyn Parks Department is adamantly against the wood chips, because
their use has led to rat infestations at several parks.
So, it seems obvious to me that we should not use wood chips at the
park. My assessment is that the survey results indicate that the vast
majority of park users are either indifferent or ambivalent on the
wood chip issue. Further, the relatively close vote does not indicate
a clear consensus. Further, the numerous the reasons against wood
chips actually prevent dogs from using the park. The reasons given in
favor of the chips are more easily circumvented. For example, if you
are bothered by mud or the rare standing water, perhaps it would be
best not to use the park after periods of heavy rain. The dust is
uncomfortable, but seasonal. Further, the practical reality is that
we simply do not have the physical and/or financial support to handle
I hope that the 25 of you who wanted the wood chips can still enjoy
the park this summer. I feel that our next step should be an effort
to create a "state of the art" park for the community, where we could
have greater control over the surface. I will arrange a meeting for
sometime in June, where we can come together and discuss the
community's needs. I will also arrange a park clean up day, where we
can at least remove the wood chips that are against the fences, and
patch any holes. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with
your suggestions and concerns.