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Dog Park, Pond Are Residents’ Top Priorities for Brenman, Boothe Parks

The Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities identified needs through a workshop and survey.

Ben Brenman and Boothe parks in West End Alexandria are most in need of an upgraded dog area, a better maintained stormwater retention pond and improved playground, according to community feedback collected by the city’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities.

Participants in an workshop and respondents to a survey consistently identified these park features as the highest priorities for the parks, according to a report issued by the department.

Workshop participants reported they felt unsafe walking to the dog park’s “hidden” location, particularly after work hours in the fall and winter. According to the city, adding lighting to the area may not be feasible because it would require bringing electrical conduit over Backlick Run.

However, the city could explore installing solar lighting in the area, according to the report.

The Brenman stormwater pond, which is fed by rainwater traveling through the city storm sewers, is designed to capture trash traveling with the water before it makes its way into the pond, according the city. As technology improves, the parks department could explore new filter systems.

Survey respondents also reported that the Boothe playground is outdated and spread out around the park. The city plans to renovate the park within the next two years, and a new playground will be located near Samuel Tucker Elementary School, according to the report.

Survey respondents and workshop participants also reported a need for improved wayfinding signs and park furniture such as benches and bike racks.

Over the past three months, 84 people responded to the survey, according to an email from Dana Wedeles, an urban planner with the city. The results will be incorporated into a Citywide Parks Improvement Plan, with draft recommendations issued in the spring.

According to the survey, the top uses of the park from respondents were, in order, walking, relaxing, using the trail, running, attending events, playing soccer, biking, using the dog area, using the playgrounds, picnicking, playing softball or baseball, attending the farmers’ market and playing tennis.

Of respondents, 51 percent reported walking to the parks, 42 percent drove and 8 percent biked.

When asked, “What do you do in the park?” the majority of participants stated that they go for unorganized, passive park uses. The top attractions, in declining order, were openness/setting, walking paths, athletic fields, access/location, clean/well-maintained, multi-use, fenced dog area, playground, family-friendly setting, pond, farmers’ market, safe, relaxing, everything and special events.

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