Brian Lang, Democratic nominee for the Hollins seat on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, held a campaign picnic/dog park rally at Waldron Park on Wednesday, July 17, to show support for his proposal to create dog parks in Roanoke County.
Lang has proposed the creation of four dog parks in the Hollins District, at Waldron Park, Brookside Park, Hollins Park and the Bonsack area. A dog park is a simple, fenced area where dogs are allowed to run off-leash. Dog parks are associated with better behavior by dogs, more responsible pet ownership, and fewer dog messes in neighborhoods. They also promote social interactions between neighbors who own dogs.
Lang emphasized that while each of the dog parks he is proposing has merit on its own, they are parts of a more comprehensive plan to bring more prosperity to Roanoke County as a whole. He pointed out that each of the four locations has hundreds of nearby homes, with many dog owners who would use each park.
Hollins residents Scott and Wendy Adkins brought their two dogs–Ella and Sadie–to the event. “I think it’s a great idea” said Scott Adkins.
“People are clearly asking for this from their local governments, all around the country,” according to Warren Campbell, another Hollins resident who attended.
“Salem and Roanoke City both have dog parks already. They’re successful. Why not Roanoke County?” asked Simon Adkins, a Hollins resident who spent much of the event keeping his three dogs–Janie, Jack and Jillybean–from getting their leashes tangled as they greeted other dogs they met.
The event on a hot, humid July evening featured picnic food for the people and bottomless water bowls for the dogs. There were plenty of comical moments and wagging tails, and all of the dogs got along well.
Lang said he chose Waldron Park for the dog park rally because of its close proximity (behind Gander Mountain) to Interstate 81 and exit 146, the Hollins exit. There are four hotels, three gas stations, two drug stores, and many restaurants near the exit.
Lang proposes that signs for the dog park be installed on I81, just as they are for gas stations and other exit features. He stated that some of the out-of-town motorists who would stop to use the dog park would also patronize local businesses, as other localities with dog parks have found.
Lang also explained that the cost of creating a dog park, which is mostly for fencing and gates, could be partly or entirely covered by donations from individuals, charitable organizations, and especially businesses that would benefit from the dog park. The prospect of having a kiosk or signs at the dog park, displaying recognition of the donors, could help to encourage donations.
Pet-friendly communities get free publicity from such national publications as Forbes Magazine, and Lang says Roanoke County should capitalize on the potential both to enhance local quality of life and to give itself bragging rights for recruitment of new businesses.
Lang proposes that Roanoke County create a comprehensive plan to add dog parks at other county parks, such as Garst Mill Park and Green Hill Park. “We own these parks, the land is already paid for, there’s room to fence off a dog park within each of them, and the costs could be at least partly subsidized by donations of money and labor. It’s a no-brainer,” according to Lang.
Lang also elaborated upon his Hollins Village proposal to spur Main Street-style development by locating a new Hollins library in the section of Williamson Road between Hollins University and Plantation Road. “If we’re going to invest millions of dollars in a new library, let’s be smart about it and site it where we can get even more for our investment. Let’s site it where it can be used most effectively to cultivate further investment by the private sector. Let’s add some outdoor tables, and co-locate a farmers market on the library site to draw even more people,” Lang said.
A collaborative 2008 study by Roanoke County and Hollins University revealed that students would be likely to patronize nearby coffee shops and other businesses.
“The dog parks, the library site, the farmers market—all of these are parts of a comprehensive plan to create a more prosperous local economy and attract businesses so our children and grand-children can find jobs and enjoy living here too,” Lang concluded.
– Virginia Weisz
Authorized by Lang For Supervisor