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Dog park complaint doesn't pass smell test

A last-minute complaint filed against a long-awaited dog park in Gold Hill shouldn't derail the project. There is little reason to believe there is any substance to the concerns expressed.

Christine Alford, a former member of the Gold Hill City Council, filed the complaint with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality on May 3. Alford says a dog park at the Gold Hill Sports Park would threaten a planned splash pad and nearby ball fields. She says the "Bark Park" should be constructed in Ben Hur Lampman Park instead.

"I don't believe DEQ would permit a new septic tank there and the dog park is in that same family, only a lot larger," Alford said.

None of those claims stands up to scrutiny.

Dogs are already permitted in the Sports Park, and dog walkers dispose of their pets' waste in designated receptacles. The Bark Park will be a fenced-off area for dogs to run, equipped with a waste disposal station. If anything, the dog park will serve to concentrate dog activity in one area, where it is easier to make sure pet owners clean up after their animals.

A septic tank is a permanent, underground sewage treatment system; a dog park is an above-ground exercise area, and dog waste is regularly removed. If there is ever a problem with dog owners not picking up after their pets, the city can take steps to make sure that happens.

Moving the dog park to Ben Hur Lampman makes no sense because that park is across the river from town, requiring anyone who wanted to visit a dog park there to go out of their way to cross a bridge.

DEQ officials should deposit the complaint in the proper receptacle, and the city should proceed with the Bark Park as planned.