YOUR TURN: No More Dogs at Mt. Hood During Golf Season

What do you think about a new seasonal ban on dogs in the 266-acre park?

Dogs are no longer welcome at Mt. Hood Park during golf season, following a ban approved by the city's Park Commission in a 4-1 vote Monday night.

Commissioners told dog owners in attendance that the move was necessary to protect their pets from stray balls and serious injury, prevent damage to the course and keep unleashed dogs under control.

Advocates said the decision reversed decades of tradition and unfairly restricted public use of the park. 


Dog owners speak out

“I've lived across the golf course my whole life and have always had access to the golf course, with all our dogs,” resident Donna McGowan said, noting improved signage could help. “Our whole family had dogs, always knew the etiquette of golfers, always obeyed it.”

“The total acreage of this place is 226 acres,” Lori Bernning said. “130 that is roughly park, and 100 that is golf. The park is predominant, the park is for people. This is a public park – this is an outrage. This is a public park and you are trying to take it away from the people that enjoy it.”

Ward 6 Alderman Peter Mortimer said he and Mayor Robert Dolan only heard of the proposal “through the grapevine,” and noted the mayor had submitted a letter asking the commission to instead initiate a task force assigned to explore alternative solutions.

“Reach out, don't take a drastic action like this,” he said. “...To just tell people in one fell swoop you suddenly can't have your dogs anywhere in Mt. Hood is just inappropriate...and I implore you, from the bottom of my heart, please do not do it.”


Commissioners, golfers respond

Chairman Michael Interbartolo said he had personally encountered problems with dogs on the golf course, and noted that employees at the park had chased by unleashed dogs, though opponents were quick to point out no hard figures or data were made available for public assessment. 

“The fact of the matter is that I've encountered problems with – not only dogs without leashes, (but) walkers...walking across the course totally unaware of golfers teeing off,” Interbartolo said. “They have no acknowledgment there is that danger.”

The park has a number of pedestrian ways that cut across some fairways on the course, posing a particular hazard for those unfamiliar with routine golf course safety, resident Joe Sullivan said, adding that dogs could pose a particular distraction. 

He added that he nearly hit a teenage girl and her younger brother with his golf ball when they inadvertently walked in front of its path.

“They had to do a little dance to avoid it,” he said. “Thank god nothing happened.”


Your turn:

Readers, what do you think? Do you take your dog to Mt. Hood for a walk every day, or get annoyed by the unleashed dogs at the park? Share your gripes with other Melrosians in our comments below.  

Myron Dittmer August 24, 2012 at 01:19 PM
O.K.….Josh…..take a deep breath…..then slowly exhale. I’ve spoken to countless people about this issue and many of them are dog owners and many of the 50-60 people who attended the Park Commission on August 13th, never mentioned or requested that Mount Hood be turned into a dog park! Vivian is the only one who has ever suggested this and I surmise she is probably alone in this thinking and not a dog owner and certainly should not be considered representing a majority opinion in this matter. All of us involved in this issue want golfing activities to continue at Mount Hood and we are very proud and appreciative of the quality of the golfing experience that GMC management created there as well as for the monies brought into city coffers as a result of their efforts. This has been a real financial win-win situation for the city, for its residents as well as for GMC! This is an example of local government working at its best with private industry for the betterment of its citizens. There is plenty of land up at Mount Hood to support both golfing and non-golfing activities as described in the 1936 State Act establishing the park and golf course. Reasonable men and women in our community must come together to establish some basic rules of conduct and etiquette for these activities. We encourage all interested and concerned citizens to join us at the next Park Commission meeting on Monday, September 10th, at 7:00pm to ensure that this gets done.
Vivian Pickles August 24, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I was named for that actress however I am a jackrussell terrier and not very into golf
Cathy Culver August 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
So I have a question... while at many parks around the city, ball parks mostly I notice NO DOG signs. Why is it ok not to have a dog on a baseball field, but not ok to ban them from a golf course? Both are public areas.
Diana Lane August 25, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Mt Hood is not exclusively a golf course. There are many areas that are paved and paths in the woods for hiking, as well as ponds for fishing. Many of the pople enjoying the park are not golfers. . Athletic fields are exclusively for athletics.
Cathy Culver August 25, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Ok.. then why not leave the golf course to the golfers and keep the dogs and walkers off the cart paths, greens and such... but allow them to have access to the WALKING trails and the ponds for fishing etc. As long as they clean up after their animals (which I know from experience is also an issue) Golf is a sport.. just as the other athletics are. Unless you are going to open ALL athletic fields to dogs, while people are playing, I don't think you can confine it to one sport.
Dave Gray August 25, 2012 at 07:53 PM
And golf courses are exclusively for golf. With all the other area there open to dogs and walkers, why would anyone even consider taking or allowing a dog on a golf course?
Myron Dittmer August 25, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Just to further clarify this matter since there still seems to be some misunderstanding where dogs hopefully will be allowed at Mount Hood if the Park Commission decides to take the advice of community input as recently described in a letter published in last week's Melrose Press and the Melrose Weekly News. We are suggesting that dogs on leashes be allowed in all areas except greens, fairways, tees, and practice areas around the clubhouse. However, we recommend that dogs on leashes be allowed on cart paths which circumvent areas such as the FAA tower, Slayton Tower, all ponds, and of course all hiking trails. When golf carts, pedestrians, and dog walkers converge, good manners and proper etiquette would apply. I'm confident that once the rules and proper etiquette are established for these mixed park activities, that reasonable people will follow them.
Cathy Culver August 25, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Myron- Fair enough. But how will this be given to the public who have not followed the debate (not everyone has time, fair enough) and enforced? I think that either way we go with this that is a difficult and sticky situation.
Josh Chace August 25, 2012 at 10:11 PM
There's no "misunderstanding" on my part. You state that dogs should be allowed on cart paths, near the FAA Tower, Slayton Tower and what you call, "hiking trails". What YOU are not understanding is that those areas are not separate from the golf course, they are actually specifically part of it and are used by golfers to navigate the course and the holes. The Tower, while a great location is dead in the center of the golf course and in order to get to it, human-owners need to walk directly across no less than 3 holes. Unacceptable. Good manners and proper etiquette have already failed us which is why the ban has been put into place and it's dog owners like yourself who are further solifying my satisfaction with this decision. Dogs do not belong anywhere on the Golf Course. That include ALL cart paths, holes, fairways, greens, ponds, Towers, and clubhouse/parking lot. Period. There's hundreds of acres of public land in Melrose for your animals to enjoy, a short drive can get you to all of those areas.
Myron Dittmer August 25, 2012 at 10:43 PM
First, I would like to address Cathy's comment above.....signage and education will help educate and inform the public on these new rules and etiquette. At the Park Commission meeting scheduled for Sept. 10th at 7:00pm, at the clubhouse, I intend to recommend that public workshops be used to educate the residents who use or intend to use the park and golf course. These workshops can be conducted in the spring and fall when activities begin for the season, e.g., spring for golfing, hiking, dog walking, etc. and fall, e.g., repeating the spring session and then adding rules for winter use of the park (e.g., cross-country skiing, etc.). I fully agree with Cathy that there must be an education component along with the rules to ensure that users of Mount Hood know the rules. Concerning Josh's issues....as was noted in previous comments, Mount Hood was designed as an integrated area with different activities which include golf and non-golf activities by the 1936 State Act. Therefore, Mount Hood was specifically setup with all these different activities in mind.....every effort should be made to accommodate them. So Josh....concerning your idea to prohibit dogs everywhere in Mount Hood....I can only say that reasonable people can agree to disagree.
Dave Gray August 25, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Myron, while I respect your commitment to Mt. Hood, misquoting Josh isn't helping. Josh did not say he wants to ban dogs everywhere at Mt. Hood. Josh said "Dogs do not belong anywhere on the Golf Course. That include ALL cart paths, holes, fairways, greens, ponds, Towers, and clubhouse/parking lot. Period.", and I happen to agree. If you really think signage and education are the cure for ignorant behavior, I have to wonder about your thought process. I don't need a workshop to educate me about how to use and behave a golf course or about proper etiquette while on the golf course, and neither does any other golfer I know or have played with. It's the people who think it's perfectly okay to saunter across a fairway while someone is propelling a 1.62 inch 1.628 ounce rock at them at 135 to 150 mph that need to be educated. I pay hefty fees to use the golf course, and it totally unfair for someone who hasn't paid the fee to use the facility and diminish the experience for me. There's plenty of room up there other than the course for non-paying visitors, but if you don't pay the fee, you have no business being on the course, and if you get your skull fractured by a golf ball it's your own fault for being there.
Cathy Culver August 25, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Very well said Dave, Thank you.
Myron Dittmer August 26, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Dave: Perhaps I read more into what Josh was inferring with his statement that “Dogs do not belong anywhere on the Golf Course. That include ALL cart paths, holes, fairways, greens, ponds, Towers, and clubhouse/parking lot. Period. There's hundreds of acres of public land in Melrose for your animals to enjoy, a short drive can get you to all of those areas.” If dog walkers are excluded from both parking lots at Mount Hood, there is no way one can walk a dog anywhere in the park since you need to go through a parking lot to get anywhere! Also, the fact that Josh suggested driving somewhere else in the city to walk your dog suggests seems to imply that he is against allowing dogs at Mount Hood. Finally, concerning that you do not need to be educated about golfing etiquette may be true but many golfers do need this education. I have had my neighbors who live adjacent to Mount Hood on occasion hit by golf balls while in their yard because someone didn’t yell “Fore”. Also, golfers have been caught drinking alcoholic beverages while on the course as well as in the parking lot, and there have been instances of damaged golf carts from misuse of the carts while on the course. An occasional reminder about basic rules and etiquette seems appropriate…even for golfers. The term “ignorant” means uninformed or unaware and contrary to what you may believe, education IS the only remedy for that condition.
Cathy Culver August 26, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Myron- I am not concerned about the golfers and their etiquette on the course. My concern is that you want to allow NON-golfers on the course and cart paths and expect them to know etiquette and rules of golf. How many dog owners, who do not respect the rules of golf enough to stay on the walking paths, are going to care about the rules and etiquette of golf? I spend a pretty penny at Mount Hood each summer for my son to be taught how to play and the rules of golf. Will that be given out for free to dog walkers? *not the swing lessons, but the rules and etiquette of the game* I do it because he loves golf. There is no other course in town that is public. I did look into Bellevue and can't afford it. Will that be given out for free to dog walkers? Meanwhile people who are NOT paying are letting their dogs crap on the cart paths and I am cleaning it out of my son's golf shoes when he gets home. So then what, greens fees increase to cover for the dog owners who are NOT responsible? And I have to pay for the mis-doings??? The 2 areas need to be 100% separate.
Lynn Parisi August 26, 2012 at 10:10 AM
I am a Melrose resident who has walked up at Mt. Hood with my dog for the last 4 years. I walk in the mornings. I learned golf etiquette from other dog walkers. Signage would go a long way to help all users of Mt. Hood to learn what is and is not allowed (i.e, dog cleanup/leashes, alcohol, golfer warnings, etc) . I walk at Mt. Hood because I am a small woman with a small dog and feel safer walking there than in the more secluded paths in the Fells. it's because there are paved paths (some of which are also used by golf carts, workers equipment, utility trucks, visitors to the tower, hikers and bike riders) and the active use of the area that makes me feel more comfortable. I sometimes walk the wooded trials but they are very poorly kept, have more ticks and I am more likely to have a run in with a coyote. The area is a mutiple-use 200+ area. I often see people fishing in the morning and there are senior citizens that come up and use the park who need the paved paths. They wouldn't be able to walk the trails. We look after each other. There has never been major any issues until this year. Instead of trying to find a solution for co-existence, the Park Commission tried a total ban without any community conversation. Continued – see following comment for continuation.
Lynn Parisi August 26, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Continued from previous comment - While you might feel that Mt. Hood is a golf course, it is a multi-use Memorial Park and Golf Course. it's co-exhisted peacefully for more than 75 years. There's no reason it can't continue to co-exhist with all users working together to find solutions to the problems. If you want a golf course with exclusivity, then play at private course with private course fees. This is shared use public land. I personally believe that there is a greater risk of injury from the golfers who drink alcohol while playing and driving carts on the course and in the parking lots. I challenge anyone to come up to Mt. Hood in the late afternoon and not find empty beer cans in the trash barrels. Twice in the last month I was driving through the parking lot in on a weekday afternoon and took pictures of people drinking beer (and grilling) in the parking lot across from the Club House. Since both the Melrose Park Department and the Golf Course Management have their offices located in the Club House, I would assume they are aware of the drinking in the parking lot and yet, there's been no outcry to make the area safe from the inebriated golfers. Mt. Hood Memorial Park and Golf Course is a 200 + acre gem that can be shared by ALL residents of Melrose.
Dave Gray August 26, 2012 at 06:09 PM
"There are paved paths, some of which are used by golf carts." If they're used by golf carts, they're called cart paths. If they're called cart paths, they're on the golf course, and you should not be out there if you haven't PAID THE FEE. Exactly what part of that escapes your comprehension? This entire business has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Myron Dittmer August 27, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Dave: Please try to express yourself in a more dignified manner without having to resort to demeaning a person who may disagree with you.... it is very unbecoming and really doesn’t add credibility to your comments. Concerning the cart paths…..these were built with city taxes and therefore all residents should have a right to their use. Case closed!
Cathy Culver August 27, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Were those city taxes/funds raised by people paying to play golf at Mt. Hood?
Dave Gray August 27, 2012 at 03:38 AM
No, sir, they were built with and are maintained by the management company with revenues from the golf course. I'm not sure why you, given your commitment to Mt. Hood, would make a mis-statement like that. Please don't presume to lecture me about dignity, especially when all I did was ask a question. Anyone who cares to pay the fee is certainly free to use the golf course, and those that don't care to pay are free to use the entire remainder of the park. It's quite simple, really, which lead to my question about what part of that the poster, and you, apparently, fail to understand. What's undignified about that?
Lynn Parisi August 27, 2012 at 08:57 AM
The undignified comment was "Exactly what part of that escapes your comprehension? This entire business has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Lynn Parisi August 27, 2012 at 09:06 AM
In regards to Myron's statement about city taxes, he is correct in how the Park and Golf course were acquired and built using both city and federal monies. The city used tax payer money to purchase most of the land and to build the park and golf course in the 1930's. The city started the project and then The Works Progress Administration, a national program that operated its own projects in cooperation with state and local governments, provided 10%-30% of the costs completed the project. The intention of the purchase of land and the development of the land was multi-use, not just a golf course. I'm told that currently the golf course generates an income for the city of $250,000 a year. This money is put towards the maintenance of parks throughout the city.
Dave Gray August 27, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Myron didn't say the park and course were acquired with city and federal funds. He said the cart paths were built using tax revenue, and they were not. The existing paved cart paths were built and are maintained by Golf Management Company using revenues generated by the course, under the terms of their lease agreement with the city dating to 2003. I believe that the city is prohibited from using tax revenue to maintain the park, just as the city is prohibited from using any of those funds generated for any other purpose except park maintenance. The money the city gets each year is a payment in lieu of taxes. In any case, the city has certain rights and responsibilities as a lessor, just as the management company has certain rights and responsibilities as a lessee. Because of that lease agreement, the golf course is technically and in practice a separate entity from the rest of the park. Those of us who patronize the golf course pay a hefty fee to do so. The compromise solution put forth by the Mayor, which I support, recognizes the distinction between those who do pay and those who don't by prohibiting dogs on fairways, greens, tees, and the rough, including any path or road that is contained within, with the exception of the road across the 11th fairway leading to the tower lot, and I am baffled as to why that distinction seems beyond the capability of some to understand. I suspect it's more a case of selective recollection.
Lynn Parisi August 27, 2012 at 01:39 PM
The compromise solution put forth by the mayor along with the following letters signers (Peter Mortimer, Ward 6 Alderman, John McLaughlin, Melrose Park Commission and Citizen, Diane Kurkjian, Animal Control Officer, Robert Van Campen, City Solicitor, Mike Lindstrom, Director of Community Services. Mike Lyle, Chief of Police, Myron Dittmer, President of the Mount Hood Park Association , Greg Penta, Melrose Dog Society, Diana Lane, neighbor and longtime dog walker at Mount Hood) does not ban people from walking on the golf paths. Per the compromise letter that has been sent to the Park Commission: Dogs shall not be allowed on fairways, roughs, greens, or tees. Dogs and dog walkers will be permitted at all times on the road that crosses the eleventh fairway to access the Slayton Tower and the Major Doak Weston Memorial, and the access roads to the Fish and Game Club, the FAA tower, and First, Second, and Third Ponds. 4. All pedestrians, including dog walkers, shall be able to use all other areas year round. Dogs must be on a leash at all times, and dog walkers must clean up after their dogs. All reasonable solutions. If you defined golf paths as all paved roads other than the road to the tower (17 and 11 hole) and part of the path around the 8th hold, there would be practically no paved walkways and no continuous loop to walk.
Josh Chace August 27, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I like how you call the "solution" a "compromise" in that you're assuming both sides (paying customers of Mt. Hood vs. loiterers) are giving something up in this proposition when in reality the only "compromise" is made by myself and the other paying customers of Mt. Hood. You're giving nothing up. Your "solution" is that the paying customers of Mt. Hood simply have to deal with having random people walking through their golf holes, interfering with their play, and distracting them while they try and play a sport they pay to play. I wish I could be there tonight to stand up for the golfers and their rights which are being completely and indefinitely infringed upon by citizens and animals who don't ultimately belong on the golf course in any manner while golf is being played.
Lynn Parisi August 27, 2012 at 02:31 PM
So you believe that anyone at Mt. Hood Memorial Park and Golf Course who does not pay a fee to golf is a loiterer? It's no longer dog walkers? In regards to the compromise, it was indicated that there were complaints from the golfers and the workers about dogs and walkers. Instead of opening up a conversation about the problems, an outright ban was initiated. The compromise proposed is to work together to try to find a solution so that there is not an outright ban while working together to make the experience for both users of the multi-use area to exist together. Definition of compromise: a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.
Dave Gray August 27, 2012 at 02:41 PM
None of the areas you mention is a cart path, and none, with the exception of the part of the tower road that crosses the 11th fairway and the path on the 8th hole, is contained within the area of the course. A cart path is a paved or unpaved path about four feet wide contained within the boundaries of the course that is intended solely as a means to traverse the course while playing. The easiest one to view is from the first tee, where it runs down the right side of the fairway from the tee to the bottom of the hill, crosses the fairway, and runs in the left rough to the dogleg. You can access the tower and the Weston Memorial from the tower road. All of the cart paths are contained within the fairways or the rough, and under the terms of the compromise proposal are prohibited areas. The tower road passes third pond on one side and the 17th hole on the other. Feel free to use that road, but about 20 yards away and parallel to that is a cart path on the 17th hole, which you are not allowed to use because it's in the rough on the hole. It seems to me what you are actually advocating is improvement of the paths and trails that don't fall within the course boundaries, and I'm all for and would support that, but it's a totally separate issue, outside the purview of the management company's agreement with the city. You're going to need to address that with the Park Commission and City Hall as a separate and distinct project.
Josh Chace August 27, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Well as defined by the Dictionary, a "loiterer" is one who wanders about where they are not intended to be so yes, I would consider "dog walkers" loiterers if they choose to walk on a golf course while paying customers are playing their sport of choice. You are not there to golf, you are not there to work. I don't know what other way to describe someone who is mulling about where they don't belong, while interfering with individuals who are there for a specific purpose. The dog walkers don't need "continuous loop" to walk around and enjoy the park. What's wrong with walking down the paths that don't intersect the golf course, and simply turning around once they get to the end or to a section that enters the course? The "compromise" I have proposed seems pretty fair. There are two sections of the park. One where golf is conducted, and one where there isn't. We stay on our parts, you stay on yours.
Dave Gray August 27, 2012 at 03:08 PM
BTW, while I agree with Josh's basic premise, it's clear that his characterization of anyone but golfers as loiterers is uncalled for. There are loiterers - teenagers who sneak into the woods with a keg, for example - but not the average person walking a dog or simply out enjoying the fresh air. As long as they stay off the tees, fairways, greens, and rough - the golf course - they have every right to be there in the parts of the park where no fee is required, and their needs deserve consideration.
Cathy Culver August 27, 2012 at 03:20 PM
If there is another way to access the tower... why do cart paths need to be utilized by hikers and dog walkers? They are there for golf carts and I believe are maintained with monies provided by the golfers by golfing. So if you let walkers on *Some* then they will want access to all. I think there is plenty of land there that both can co-exist in the own areas. If there was not an issue with walkers on the greens and golfing areas and if they were respectful of the sport, this would not have come up in the first place. Not every golfer is good. It takes a long time to learn the game and even the greats have bad shots. When one of those bad shots goes wrong and hurts someone, who gets sued? The golfer or the town? Do we need to wait for that to happen and then shut down the cart paths to walkers? If there is a need for better paths for the dog walking and "PARK" areas. I am all for that. Make new paths, pave them, designate them for walkers. But use tax monies to do that, or even better, charge an entrance fee or yearly permit fee (which can be low like $15 per year.) for town residents much like Medford does with some of their swimming areas. Will the dog walkers be willing to pay to use a public area and have that area maintained? The golfers pay to use a public course.


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