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.”
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.