By TIM ROWLAND
6:18 PM EDT, October 8, 2012
This is so quintessentially Hagerstown it almost makes me weep: City officials have decided to form a task force to decide whether the city can support a leash-free dog park.
We do love our task forces, don’t we? Not enough to ever do what they recommend, of course, we just like having them around. It’s a warm blanket for our public office holders, because it makes them feel as if they are doing something when in fact they are not.
No one’s responding to fires? Let’s form a task force, that’ll take care of the problem. Want to wash your hands of responsibility for the old hospital property? Leave it up to a task force. Washington County is the only place I know that needs a Department of Task Force Oversight to keep watch on the task forces. But first, we would need a task force to determine the need for a Department of Task Force Oversight, so that tin can might need a good kick down the road.
But I’d hate to be the chairman of this latest task force. What are you supposed to do, stand up there with an easel and a pointer? “OK, everyone, let’s start with the basics. This is a dog.”
And where you go for membership on the task force is hard to say. For fairness, it seems to me as if you need to appoint at least one dog. I want a task force consisting of Charles, Emily, Philip, Susan and Marmaduke. Matter of fact, I’d like to see a meeting of the task force look almost exactly like the velvet wall hanging of the Dogs Playing Poker.
And, of course, only in Hagerstown could we take an issue as a dog park and make it so horribly complex that no one can tell which end of the project barks and which end wags.
As Bill Clinton would say, listen to me because this is important: This is a dog park, not the Walled City of Jerusalem. A dog park. You don’t need to get representatives from 14 different religions to agree on the one true God. You just pretty much have to find some open space, fence it off and hang out a sign that says “Dog Park.”
That’s about all there is to it.
But no, we have to get all hung up on location issues, size issues, liability issues, noise issues, dogs traumatizing people issues, people traumatizing dogs issues and just about every potential problem this side of “What if a plane crashes in the middle of the park and one of the dogs grabs a pack of airline peanuts and carries it down the street to an elementary school where a child with a nut allergy gets hold of it and DIES?”
So here again we have a situation — like recycling in the county — where every community in the entire United States of America (yes, even in Mississippi) has figured it out, yet somehow it’s way, way too monumental a problem for us to noodle through.
I’m with council member and dog-park supporter Ashley Haywood on this, because here’s the thing: If I live in the city and meet up with a dog, I would much rather it be a dog that is happy and well-exercised than one whose owner has no place to let him run, and he’s wound tighter than Howard Dean and just waiting for a chance to spend some unused energy.
Matter of fact, maybe that’s the problem. We have too many citizens who have too much energy without the proper outlets for constructively blowing off steam. So when something, anything, comes up, all the purpose and drive that should have gone into something productive is used to blow it out of the water.
So there’s the answer. Forget the dogs; we need a leash-free people park.
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