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Neighbors push D.C. government to buy Columbia Heights dog park

Residents urge DC officials to buy neighborhood dog park in Columbia Heights. Monday, May 14, 2018 (ABC7 photo)

UPDATE — The D.C. Council’s fiscal year 2019 budget has been revealed by Chairman Phil Mendelson to Council members and their staffs.

The budget sets aside $1.55 million for the acquisition of and improvements to the Columbia Heights Dog Park as well as for improvements to the Upshur Dog Park.

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) — In January, ABC7 News first told you about a group of residents barking up a storm to save their dog park in Columbia Heights. This week, D.C. Council members will decide whether the District government should buy it.

The unofficial dog park at 11th Street and Park Road NW sits on a corner owned by Metro. As the transit agency tries to clean up its finances, it is looking to sell excess properties, including this one, which has nearby dog owners worried.

“We have a balcony but it's not the same thing,” said Cybelle Torres.

Some even consider this part of Columbia Heights a “dog park desert.”

“[There are] not really a lot of opportunities for them to run and there's not really another dog park in the area nearby,” said Derek Dufresne.

In D.C.’s pending budget, Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau has requested $1.5 million for the purchase of the site and improvements like installing a water source and adding turf.

“We have not enough green spaces as it is so we need to preserve the ones we have,” Nadeau said.

Supporters of the dog park have created an online petition, homemade signs hung on the fence around the park and a social media campaign targeting the mayor and D.C. council leadership.

“The things people care about the most are the things that impact their lives. And for those who have pets and dogs in particular, this space is really important and special,” Nadeau said.

The council member added that $1.5 million is not a lot to ask in the D.C. government's $14 billion budget.

In a statement, WMATA media relations manager Sherri Ly said:

The District of Columbia has indicated that it may be interested in purchasing the property located at 11th St. NW and Park Rd. NW. WMATA has informed the District that the price for the property is to be determined by appraisal, which WMATA expects to have in hand no later than Summer 2018. At that point, the District may determine whether or not it intends to purchase the property and, subsequently, WMATA and the District may enter into a purchase and sale agreement.
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