The dog park on 13th and Herndon streets in Arlington is little more than a muddy field cordoned off by a few lengths of chain-link fence. But by next year it will undergo a $1.5 million transformation to become an urban doggy oasis complete with gardens, a plaza and a swimming area for the county's canine residents.
The Arlington County Board recently approved funding for improvements at James Hunter Park, which have been on the drawing board since 2007. Over the past five years, county officials hosted a slew of public meetings, worked with local community organizations and dog owners (or, as county staff calls them, "dog guardians") and drafted a master plan for the 0.85-acre park (called a "community canine area") along the densely developed Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
The result is nearly $1.5 million worth of new amenities, including a swimming pool and a waterfall for dogs, "demonstration gardens" showcasing native plants and a 1,200-square-foot plaza. Officials say they've worked to make the park environmentally sustainable as well, with a solar-powered irrigation system and cisterns to collect rainwater.
County staff say the park's price tag is typical for parks in urban areas. The county has budgeted $6.6 million for improvements to another two-acre park, and staff pointed to projects in the District where the city spent tens of millions of dollars on parks smaller than 10 acres.
"With urban parks, a lot of it is the actual site preparation and site improvements and stormwater collection -- and park infrastructure is enormous, too," said Scott McPartlin, an urban planner for Arlington County. "In the urban areas we like our parks to really accentuate the urban fabric."
McPartlin said area residents have been waiting for years for the county to improve the park and the county worked closely with dog guardians to redevelop it.
"The density of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor is really increasing, but a lot of the high-rises allow dogs. The issue is, they need a place they can walk them, and they need a place where the dogs can run," he said. "The community canine area is really about people as well. People make a lot of really strong friendships and connections."