About the neighborhhood

My neighborhood park is being hijacked for the pleasure of a few

A dog park has been proposed for 40th Street and Lake Harriet Boulevard, right around the corner from our house. Personally, I'm dog-neutral. I have no great love of dogs, though I don't particularly dislike them, either.

But I most passionately do NOT want a dog park near my house.

I'm against the dog park largely because I'm the father of two small girls. Two tasty little bite-size morsels. And I'd worry about their safety with large numbers of dogs roaming around, especially dogs accustomed to running free off-leash, beyond the control of their owners.

Sure, most dogs are well trained and under the control of their owners. But let's face it: many dogs are not well trained and are not under the control of their owners. And dogs running together off-leash in a pack will bring out the worst in each of them. Just like humans in a pack. Dogs are carnivores. And they are pack animals. What Rover and Muffy and sweet little Louis would never think of when alone, on-leash with their owner, might just be thinkable when they're running in a pack with their peers.

Don't tell me the unthinkable can't happen. When I was in second grade, my best friend's face was torn off by a neighbor's German Shepherd. The dog was used to children, was well trained, and was ordinarily sweet-tempered… no one ever had a clue why it suddenly attacked my friend. After countless plastic surgeries he looked normal again -- almost -- but I'm maybe a little more sensitive than most to how an otherwise warm, loving dog can suddenly turn aggressive.

Mostly I'm mad because I feel like my neighborhood park -- a space currently open to all -- is being hijacked for the pleasure of a few.

Right now this corner of the park is used in multiple ways. It's a haven for wildlife and birds, rabbits and raccoons, and the occasional pair of ducks. In the winter, neighborhood kids sled down the hill. Teenagers sneak off to smoke

and neck among the trees. Occasionally I see someone meditating in the still, quiet woods.

And occasionally neighbors, when no one else is around, let their dogs off-leash to chase tennis balls and sticks. Which doesn't bother me at all.

Sure, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board rules require that all dog owners clean up after their pets in dog parks, even when they're off-leash. But who in their right mind, other than a dog owner, is going to want to wander around a park dominated by packs of free-ranging dogs?

Opposing dogs is a bit like opposing apple pie and ice cream, but please: don't let our neighborhood park be hijacked for the pleasure of a few.

  • Robert Gerloff, AIA, is the principal of Robert Gerloff Residential Architects, located in Linden Hills. He can be reached at rgerloff@residentialarchitects.com.