“Bait and switch” on the Dog Park

Once again, leaving many in the audience unsure about what they had voted to do, Lumpkin County Commissioners denied dog park proponents the right to proceed with plans for their dog park.

Chairman John Raber began the discussion saying, “Regardless of what comes out, you have been professional.”  He continued relating that during visitation at the funeral home someone had yelled out at him, “Y’all had better not allow that dog park!”

After allowing dog park supporters to state what they  wanted, Raber offered dog park opponent, Clinton Crane, an opportunity to question dog park supporters.  Crane asked, “Y’all gonna build a fence if we give you a piece of property?  Y’all gonna take care of all the upkeep, so forth?  No extra work for the Park & Rec?  Who has liability?  My thing is, right now the county has not given a piece of land to a non-profit.”

This public display during a Regular Commission Meeting was unprecedented since Raber became chairman.  During all previous Regular Monthly Commission meetings, Raber has been very careful to allow only commissioners to ask questions during meetings.

Every issue mentioned by Crane had been thoroughly addressed during numerous work sessions.  Specific alternate locations within Yahoola Creek Park had been discussed during a Public Hearing and a Work Session.  The location highlighted on a map brought to the meeting by county representatives had been recommended by Commissioner Clarence Stowers.

Dog park supporter, Civil Engineer Glenn Melvin, had met with commissioners at that location to see what they thought of it.  Commissioners who actually looked at the location seemed to agree that it was too small a space for other uses.  Commissioners Scott and Raber could not find time in their busy schedules to visit any location for a dog park.

Commissioner Bill Scott admits that he just plain opposes a dog park in Yahoola Creek Park.  He accomplished a real “bait and switch” with a motion to deny the originally proposed location that he alleged was the only location before the commission.  He volunteered that alternate locations brought up at the February Work Session had been a surprise to him and he had not found time to consider any other location.

The facts are:

  • Other locations had been discussed in more than one public meeting.
  • The county’s own map indicated the alternate location.
  • Scott refused to consider the site that actually was before the commission.

Raber appears fearful of all those folks who oppose this gift to the county, but only Clinton Crane and Bill Scott have come forth.

The gist of it is, after two work sessions and one public hearing spread out over nearly six months, Bill Scott was able to make a motion that successfully prevented any kind of positive vote for a dog park even though it would create no obligation to the county and cost the taxpayers nothing.

People love their dogs.  As Clarence Stowers said recently, “People only have children living with them for about twenty years.  The rest of their lives, they have a dog.”

The issue has awakened a lot more voters to problems within county government.  They are not going away and they won’t give up.

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3 Responses to “Bait and switch” on the Dog Park

  1. Bgirl says:

    So what is the reasoning for denying construction of the dog park? Am I missing something, because from where I stand there are really no negative consequences to this plan. Currently, people are not allowed to let their dogs run free in the park. They are supposed to be cleaning up their dog’s droppings with baggies that are never available. So, what happens? People break the rules, and how can you blame them? The whole reason for bringing your dog to the park is to give it some exercise. Not everyone is able to run along with their dog while it is leashed. What is so bad about giving the dogs a place to run and play away from the game fields and any “non-dog loving” patrons? The dog park would be beneficial to everyone who visits Yahoola Creek Park. To rule out improvement for everyone because of a few giant egos is just absurd.

  2. Emily says:

    Bgirl, there is no reasoning involved in much that our commissioners do. As Chairman Raber so clearly stated during the last Commission Meeting, it is all political. They want to maintain control. Volunteers interfere with control.

    Elections in July 2010 and 2012 can resolve the issue. Want to take your government back? You have four months to find and elect better commissioners. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  3. Emily says:

    The following statement was sent to me by Larry Robertson who was Lumpkin County Planning Director several years ago.

    “I have followed the dog park issue in the Lumpkin Sunshine and must say that it is disappointing that some people don’t seem to understand the value of this type of park. Most cities in central Florida have a dog park either as a stand alone like ours or as a fenced off portion of a larger park.

    It appears there was concern about maintenance, city crews do maintain the park but their work is minimal. I believe you will find that people who care enough about their pets to take them to an off-leash dog park tend to be conscientious they keep the park clean and help take care of it.

    From first hand experience I can tell you that after the hurricanes in 2004 we had to turn away volunteers who wanted to help clean up Paw Park and get it back open, that wasn’t the case with the other parks in the City.

    Our dog park occupies almost a full City block. It has spawned a dog centered business nearby with others in the works.

    Sanford prides itself on being a dog friendly city and we have a great dog park.

    Please go to the link below to read about Paw Park.

    http://www.pawparksanford.org/ Good Luck in getting your own paw park.

    Larry Robertson

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