Brookhaven, GA, September 6, 2016 – by Trey Benton – Brookhaven Park is often referred to as “the Dog Park” and on evenings and weekends it is not uncommon to see several furry friends running around – sometimes solo, sometimes in packs – not on a leash. Even doing web searches for “Brookhaven Dog Park” brings up mentions of Brookhaven Park. However, there is no official “dog park” presently at Brookhaven Park, and according to signs posted on the property, all pets must be on a leash and under control of their owners in accordance with a City Ordinance (see below).
While dog owners utilize the park as a way to let their pets run off steam and have a good time, joggers and other park-goers are at times approached by the dogs and say they are a bit intimidated and very uncomfortable – sometimes having the pooches nibble at their feet or legs as they jog by.
“There have been a number of times when I have gone to Brookhaven Park dogs large and small have run up to me and it makes me very uneasy,” park-goer Lesley Jones told The Post. “Most of the time their owners are not in the immediate vicinity and unaware of what their pet is doing. What if I were attacked? What if I were a small child that could not defend myself?”
Jones says that if she were walking around inside of a designated dog park area she would understand that behavior, but since there is no designated area, dog owners have decided for themselves to designate the entire park as one.
Mack Miller tells The Post he and his family were at the park over the Labor Day weekend with his two small children who were greeted several times by off-leash dogs. “I have no problem with dogs or with them running around a public park,” he said. “But the park is for everyone and if I can’t sit on a blanket and enjoy a picnic with my kids without dogs running up to us making us feel uncomfortable to be there, something needs to be done.”
Dog owner Tom Jenkins, who has been going to Brookhaven Park for as long as he can member, says in the 15-years he has lived in the area, dogs have always been allowed to run around and have a good time, off-leash, at the park. “I have never had a problem with my dog running up to anyone,” says Jenkins, “though there has been a time or two where other dogs have run up to my dog in a very aggressive manner. I don’t think they mean any harm…it’s what they do.”
Jenkins says that in most cases the issues are not with the dogs themselves, but owners not paying close enough attention to their pet and what they are up to. “It looks like to me it’s more of a pet owner problem rather than a pet problem. What I have seen more than pets bothering people are dog fights and their owners are not close enough to stop it quickly,” Miller adds.
Brookhaven Park is still under the ownership DeKalb County and not an official City of Brookhaven Park. The City has been working through the process of getting it conveyed to the City but due to complications (some say hard-headedness), DeKalb Commissioners have stalled those efforts. For years, DeKalb County Police would stop by Brookhaven Park, sometimes issuing warnings and other times issuing citations for violating of the County’s leash law.
Sparking considerable outcry among the dog owner community that utilizes Brookhaven Park, the City of Brookhaven Police Department (BPD) said back in December they would be “cracking down” on leash-law violators by issuing warnings and possibly citations at Brookhaven Park. Since then, according to BPD, there have been a number of warnings issued, but few, if any, citations.
Councilman Bates Mattison, who represents District 3 where Brookhaven Park sits, asks about the progress of the conveyance of the some 30-acre greenspace over to the City at nearly every City Council Work Session. He says the City has plans to address this issue, potentially starting with fencing off an area as a sort-term solve. However, Mattison says the City recognizes it is an issue that needs to be addressed, but subjecting City taxpayers before the County transfers the land would be problematic.
In anticipation of eventual Brookhaven Park ownership, the City has gone ahead with draft plans that include a designated off-leash area for dogs, but until the City takes ownership, they are reluctant to approve those plans and allocate funding until the park is Brookhaven property.
The draft Brookhaven Park plan, that will be updated at a later date, includes:
- Nature trail
- Dog park
- Additional parking
- Multi-use fields
- Natural play area
- Additional Restrooms
- Pedestrian access to Peachtree Rd.
- Entry road
In the Skyland Park Master Plan, which was recently revised, also includes a designated off-leash area. Presently though, Brookhaven dog owners who wish to visit an official “dog park” must go to Dunwoody’s Brook Run Park or the next closest designated off-leash park area within the City of Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.
If all the plans come together, Brookhaven could eventually have the most allocated dog friendly acreage of the new cities, more than Dunwoody’s three acre Brook Run dog parlor or the three and a half-acre Morgan Falls River Park / Dog Park in Sandy Springs.
But avid walker and jogger Jones says whatever the City’s future plans are, the question is now, “Should the City Police begin to really enforce the ordinance or should they continue to go soft on the violators as DeKalb County did for years?”
What do you think? Tell us below in our Post Poll.
We’ve embedded the City Animal Ordinance below and the Brookhaven Park Draft Plan below.