Work on Mount Washington dog park comes to paws

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On the first dog day of summer, the heat on Mount Washington was over a dog park.

Olympia Park, a green space on Virginia Avenue, has become a popular gathering spot in recent years for Mount Washington residents to bring their dogs to exercise. A year ago, those dog owners started talking about creating a dog park.

They wanted a fenced-in space where their dogs could run without being leashed, said Adam Causgrove, who became president of the group that calls itself Paws for Olympia Park.

And so they began the process of creating a dog park.

The group's members worked with Pittsburgh city Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who held public meetings, mailed out a flier about the proposed dog park and secured $60,000 in Pittsburgh's 2012 capital budget.

On Monday, the dog park project broke ground. Today, the project stalled.

Construction of the dog park fence prompted what Ms. Kail-Smith described today as 11 phone calls to her office from Mount Washington residents who either didn't know about plans for the dog park or didn't realize its proposed size.

The fence work will be completed, but installation of signs and benches and the ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for Monday will be postponed, she said.

And, in a few weeks, there will be one more dog park meeting.

"I believe that we can find some middle ground here and that we can appease everybody," Ms. Kail-Smith said.

This morning, as work continued on the dog park, the people who passed through Olympia Park were on both sides of the fence.

The dog park -- now that more people know about it -- is "going to be a major league issue," said Jeffrey Forse, who lives down the street. He called the dog park fence, which will cover a hillside used for Frisbee and sunbathing in the summer and for sledding in the winter, a "monstrosity." If it were smaller, he could support it.

"I don't know how big a dog park has to be, but does it have to overwhelm a park?" he said.

But Thomas Zwergel, who was throwing a tennis ball to his two dogs, Crosby and Aspen, in the baseball field section of the park this morning, was happy to see the dog park fence going up.

He has lived on Mount Washington for about 18 months and wanted a safe place for his dogs to get exercise. An Olympia Park dog park, he said, would be ideal.

"This is a good spot," he said.

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To subscribe: Kaitlynn Riely:


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