letters to the editor - 6/17/03

June 17, 2003

Allow dogs in park

To the editor:

This is a thank-you letter to our city councilman, Kristin Aleshire. I would like to thank him for standing up against an unjust and ridiculous rule.

It is disturbing to think that Hagerstown has beautiful parks but dog owners cannot enjoy those parks. I used to walk my dog regularly in the fairgrounds. However, I was approached by a gentleman who informed me that I was not allowed in the park with my dog.

I used to pass the sign every day that stated "No alcohol or dogs in the park." What a comparison, alcohol and dogs. Nevertheless, I did not even think about it until this person informed me of the rule. How absurd. You can walk your dog anywhere within the city limits but not in areas where it would be the safest for you and your dog.


There are hundreds of people, on a daily basis, who break this ordinance. When I walked my dog at the fairgrounds I would estimate that a least 35-40 percent of the walkers also had dogs with them.

I would like to ask that the Mayor and City Council look at this ordinance and re-examine it. I would also ask the Mayor and City Council not to put in a special dog area at the parks as this is a waste of taxpayer monies. If you would like to spend money at the fairgrounds it would be nice to have water fountains for those who enjoy walking there.

There are so many alternatives besides elimination of all dogs in parks. You could have dog owners register their dogs, post "dogs on leash allowed with owners" signs, give dog owners certain days and times they can walk their dogs, or best of all, make a rule that allows dog owners the same privileges you allow non-dog owners.

I know the arguments for banning the dogs; however, all of those issues should be able to be resolved. For example: Dog feces messing up the park. Make rules that dog owners carry bags and clean up if their dogs' make a mess. I can assure you that I have seen more dog feces in the downtown area where I work every day than I have ever seen in the parks.

Another concern that I have is the fear of dogs running free and intimidating other walkers. Make a rule that everyone must have his or her dog on a six-foot-leash.

The fairgrounds and the City Park are beautiful and I know the many people who break the ordinance daily go to the park because of its beauty, accessibility, camaraderie and the opportunity to stay fit with exercise. I also believe the people who use the parks for exercising their dogs and themselves do not want to ruin the park or anyone else's park experience.

Please do not shut out dog owners from enjoying one of the nicest things the City of Hagerstown has to offer its residents and taxpayers.

Please do not continue a ridiculous rule that makes hundreds of people feel guilty because they have to break a ridiculous rule to enjoy a safe place to exercise.

Forrest Easton


Shelter needed

To the editor:

I was disturbed by the articles in The Morning Herald concerning the location of the cold weather shelter. Councilman Lewis Metzner and Chief of Police Arthur Smith show a callow disregard for the people who use the cold-weather shelter.

A downtown location makes sense because of its proximity to needed services. Many of the guests have jobs, and transportation is easier from downtown. I would question whether seeing a few homeless people on the street is going to cause serious problems. How does one identify a homeless person? Is he or she wearing a label that says "homeless"?

I have served as a volunteer at both the evening and day shelters and have always been treated politely and respectfully. Aren't we supposed to help those who are less fortunate than we are?

Margaret Stone


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