Could Cleveland Heights use a Roof Top Dog Park?
As the United States is becoming increasingly urbanized, the need for intentional, thoughtful public space is also increased. Though populations have left rural areas and have steadily moved towards more dense urban centers, they have not abandoned their canine companions. approximately According to The Humane Society (2007), 60% of households have one dog, 25% have two dogs, and 15% have three or more dogs. Therefore, Dog Parks should be seen as a community need. But would this community need solely benefit pet owners? Hardly.
The first "official" dog park was created in Berkeley, California in 1970. Since then, "Bark Parks" have been on the steady rise, especially within the last decade. The number of off-leash dog parks has increased 20% over the past five years and they are now one of the fastest-growing segments of municipal parks. What’s the reason for this?
Why Urban Dog Parks?
According to Penn State researchers,
"In many urban settings houses are tightly nestled together and front yards are large enough for a few prized shrubs surrounded by a rustic wrought iron fence. Backyards generally consist of an area to park two cars, a small patio/sitting area, a few plants and trees, and a patch of grass. Lawns are so small that a non-motorized push mower can complete the job in a matter of minutes" (Allen, 2007).
Dog trainers and owners agree that dogs regularly need exercise, or they start becoming a nuisance to both owner and the community. Allowing our companions run off-leash allows them exercise, helping them (and owners and neighbors) to sleep easier at night. It also allows for socialization between other dogs and humans, which tends to breed friendlier, less aggressive animals.
Because of both the reduction of yardage in typical urban homes, and the constant need for dogs to get outside, Dog Parks became an answer. After all, this is better than residents taking their pets to vacant areas and letting them loose. But these “Paw Parks” as they are also called, have added benefits to the community.
Key Finds From a recent study (2015):
Cleveland Heights stands to benefit from such an addition to the community. Increasingly, urban apartments are turning to such parks to lure potential residents. The catch? They put them on the roof (Olick, 2013).
Viking Planners, a group of students from Cleveland State University's Maxine Levin College of Urban Affairs, presented market study findings and recommendations on May 9th. Among those recommendations were that Cleveland Heights would benefit from changes to existing parking, and an increase in green and public space.
If Cleveland Heights made an investment to an existing structure, rather than build a new one, that investment would benefit both the community, and itself. If the Cedar Lee parking garage was renovated to create a Roof Top Dog Park on the little used top-level, it would even see an increase in parking revenue. According to a study on Dog Parks in Virginia, 56% drove, 31% walked and the remaining respondents drove and walked to the dog park located in a traditional residential neighborhood (Gómez & Hunting, 2014).
But there is a regional draw as well. Of that same dog park studied in Virginia, 73% lived nearby, meaning that around 27% of people drove in from other cities to use the dog park (Gómez & Hunting, 2014). According to DogsInTheCLE.com, Cities near Cleveland Heights that have dog parks are South Euclid, various parts of Cleveland, Kirtland, Eastlake and several more. The number increases as the distance from Cleveland increases, which is counter-intuitive. Don’t urban areas need Dog Park too? Surely, people around the Heights would patronize an off-leash dog park.
A Heights Roof Top Dog Park would…
Provide a regional draw for dog park patronization
Increase the sense of community, regardless of demographics
Provide an increase in revenue from city parking
Increase the appeal of the city to potential residents
Increase revenue to business owners
Be part of the “Heart of the Heights” identity proposed by the Cedar Lee market study
Become a destination landmark known throughout region
So, Could Cleveland Heights use a Roof Top Dog Park?
Let us know in the comments below!
Allen, Laurel. 2007. Dog Parks: Benefits and Liabilities. University of Pennsylvania.
Gómez, Edwin, & Hunting, John. 2014. A Qualitative Assessment of Virginia Beach Dog Park Users. Old Dominion University. Retrieved 26 July 2016, from http://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1090&context=nerr
Graham, Taryn M.; Glover, Troy D. 2015. “On the Fence: Dog Parks in the (Un)Leashing of Community and Social Capital,” Leisure Sciences: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Harvard Kennedy School.
Olick, D. (2013). Apartments: Wooing Dogs and Their Owners. Retrieved July 26, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/id/100449623
The Humane Society of the United States. U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics. Retrieved February 17, 2007, from http://www.hsus.org/pets/issues_affecting_our_pets/pet_overpopulation_ownership