Cleaning up after the dog fee

October 18, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010 our city commission approved fees to use Fleet Peeples Park with your dogs effective December 1, 2010. Commissioners Dillaha, Cooper, and McMacken voted for the fees. Commissioner Anderson and Mayor Bradley voted no. (I am not a dog owner.)

Hundreds of Winter Park residents and non-residents take advantage of Fleet Peeples Park weekly to exercise dogs off leash and socialize with other dog owners. This has been going on for over ten years. Dog owners are a constituency whose needs should be addressed just as the city addresses needs of other constituencies ranging from the Winter Park Historical Association, to the library, to low income housing and social programs.

Some people involved in the volunteer group Friends of Fleet Peeples park have been truly nasty in response to what they perceive as threats to their unfettered use of the park. Members of our Parks Commission and City Commission have been equally nasty to these people and their position overtly biased. It is out of control. Parks Commission member Bonnie Jackson, for example, appeared before the city commission to express her personal distaste for off leash use of Fleet Peeples Park as follows, “I don’t want your dog that just went in the lake, ran through a bunch of mud, sniffing everybody else’s behind, coming over and jumping on me.” Jackson and Dillaha are also pushing an effort to remove on leash dogs from Mead Gardens and other city parks as well as working to prohibit animal centered events on or near Park Avenue. Ms. Jackson has demonstrated no understanding of or tolerance for the realities of pet behavior or ownership, and seems ill suited to fairly represent the broad spectrum of interests using our city parks.

Fees have been imposed not as a means to support and improve the park, but in an effort to limit use of the park. Note, however, that the city now takes full responsibility for the off leash dog park. Users can now rightly demand that the city routinely clean, maintain, and improve the park to standards acceptable to paying customers. (That the costs of doing so are not known or provided for is testament to the questionable judgment applied in deciding to initiate fees at this juncture.)

I encourage every member of the Friends of Fleet Peeples Park and every interested dog owner in Winter Park and beyond to pay the now required fees and to send an email to [email protected] noting your fee payment and demanding the following as a paying user of the park:

  • The city needs to implement an on-site day pass system for Fleet Peeples Park.
  • The city needs to provide on-site staff daily to pick up feces and to routinely encourage all users to clean up after their dogs and abide by other park rules.
  • The city needs to provide daily on site enforcement to ensure all users of the park have paid the necessary usage fees.
  • The city needs to fund and implement the current approved master plan for Fleet Peeples Park.

The city is now obligated to take full responsibility for cleaning, maintaining, and improving an off leash dog park to Winter Park’s high standards, as well as enforcing collection of usage fees. All dog owners paying the fee to use Fleet Peeples Park can and should hold the city accountable.

Regards, Pete Weldon


20 Responses to Cleaning up after the dog fee

  1. A Cat Owner says:

    The strange part of this decision is when Friends of Fleet were sort of on the hook for fundraising and maintenance, at least there was a dedicated group at the park that had a vested interest in the park. By charging a fee, I think the city will now be perceived as the entity that controls the “atmosphere” at the park. I am not a dog owner, but I would lose any enthusiasm for FFP if I was a member. “Let the city do it” I think may become the mantra.

    It will be interesting to see if the revenue projections are on target and if violations will be ticketed. I might have missed it, but is a cop going to write a dog ticket? I hope not. And did anyone ask the PD what they thought about enforcing dog tags.

  2. I agree and repeat the last sentence of my post; “All dog owners paying the fee to use Fleet Peeples Park can and should hold the city accountable.”

    If they are smart members of FPP will go running down to city hall to pay the fee.

  3. Wilson's Dad says:

    Cat Owner makes a couple of good points, especially about enforcement. One of the big things for me is economics. To enforce this fee, as you suggest above, will take a minimum of 2 full time employees, with benefits and an investment in brick and mortar for on-site assets. My guesstimate is that you are looking at a minimum of $90k to $100k per year in personnel costs on top of what the park costs the city now. Conservatively, that’s nearly 55 paying visitors a day, 350 days a year to break even, that’s if you let people play for free, and don’t staff the park on holidays. Some days, this is no problem. Other days, the park doesn’t come close. If you plan to cover the park 365 days a year, the math gets worse. Why, given this economy, would we choose to create another hole to throw money down? None of the users of the park I have spoken with have a single positive thing to say about this new program. And I agree with Cat Owner that it will degrade the facility as people will adopt a “let the city do it” attitude since they’ve been forced to pay to play. Interesting, too, that this vote seems to follow a very familiar 3 to 2 pattern that has come to typify almost every decision the commission makes, nowadays.

  4. Wilson’s Dad assumes the city will not fulfill its new commitment. Either this is a game by political interests to so mistreat dog owners that they just go away and the city then does away with off leash use of Fleet Peeples Park altogether, or, this is a genuine commitment by the city to properly fund, manage, and improve the regions best off leash dog park.

    Guess we will have to wait and see. I good first step would be to reverse the salary increases for commissioners they just voted for and apply the money to Fleet Peeples Park.

  5. shari duff says:

    Do any of you personally remember Fleet Peeples??????? This was a man who would be appalled at the actions of the city of Winter Park (that he loved) I DO remember him and he would NEVER have wanted a fee for the use of any park that bore his name….he was a great animal lover, and cared deeply about the city and all of the kids who fondly remember him as their swimming teacher. I can still picture his very tanned face watching over my daughter as she learned to, not only swim, but value nature and the animals he would nurse back to health in his back yard. SHAME ON THE CITY FOR THIS UNCONSCIENABLE FEE at a public park. At an economic time as this, your vote to charge fees for this park, and your voting to increase your salaries, reeks of “elitism”…..I guess “LET THEM EAT CAKE” is the motto of Winter Park Commissioners. UGH!

  6. The Winter Park / Maitland Observer wrote this very impressive editorial on the dog fee issue. Check out the comments as well.

    Why aren’t our most experienced, intelligent, and knowledgeable residents on the Winter Park City Commission and on city boards? We have a bunch of people with no leadership experience who like to hear the sound of their voice making decisions that serve their personal agendas, not the best long term interests of our 28,000 residents.

    We need to remove the righteous nonsense that continues to plague Winter Park from positions of responsibility and authority.

  7. Wilson’s Dad, you are correct about the economics. The City projects that with the fee, they will raise around $45k annual from users. Never mind it will cost roughly between $60-$100k to enforce this fee, not to mention losing the thousands of dollars and volunteer hours spent by Friends of Fleet Peoples Park to maintain the facilities. The City’s annual parks and rec. budget is roughly $6mil annually, last numbers I saw was that only $18k annually is allotted for Fleet Peoples, which is one of the largest and most popular parks in the City. Thanks WP Prospective for highlighting this important issue!

  8. Don’t look now, but Bonnie Jackson is running for the city commission seat opened up by Beth Dilaha. If she wins the election, thing in Winter Park will get far worse :-/

  9. Anonymous says:

    Last night (1/10/11) the commission passed the dog fee 4-1. Now that this chapter in the saga is over (but it probably isn’t) there is a new control coming down the pike. Commissioner Dillaha wants to ban smoking in public parks and spaces. What’s next, Mommy? Banning trans fats and plastic bags? March elections can’t come soon enough.

  10. The following comment was sent the day after the March 2011 election (the anonymous author offered the comment on this October 2010 post). I preface the comment as I believe this kind of vitriol and paranoia will have to stop if we are to resolve this issue in a way that serves the long term interests of the city. People, listen up! The city commission will not stop off leash dogs use of FPP. The city commission will not try to make money off FPP, or sell it, or exploit it for financial gain. The city commission (any city commission) wants to increase the uses and usage of every park. It is ridiculous and counter productive to suggest otherwise.

    Here is the comment offered anonymously:

    The Fleet Peoples website states:

    3-09-11 Congradulations to Steve Leary and Sarah Sprinkel
    our 2 New City Commissioners!!!!
    A race won with integrity and honor.. how refreshing!

    How ironic that the same group that has spent the past year hurling epithets and has spread falsehoolds about Bonnie Jackson and her views on dogs should make such a statement. For goodness sakes, the woman owns a dog she rescued from the Pound 9 years ago plus one more to boot. Moreover, she was not a proponent of the fees and was even shot down when she suggested coming up with additional dog parks. Given the involvement of the group, by and through its members, in the Sprinkel campaign, the stink will not only remain in Fleet Peeples Park, but it will take a long time to lift from this campaign. Even sadder is the fact that the FFPP group never truly understood its role as the useful idiots in a deeper plan by those who need to line their own pockets in Winter Park. The simple fact is that Bonnie Jackson stood in the way of those for whom too much money was at stake in the years to come. This was the first municipal election in which I paid attention. Now that I see what goes on in this city, it will not be the last. Given that the politics of personal destruction are alive and well in what I thought was a beautiful city, I shall remain Anonymous.

  11. Gleeful Cheerful Hopeful 3/11 says:

    It’s amazing that a 2-1 loser would have the nerve to call the election a fraud. Strange folks in WP.

  12. Ed Sabori says:

    Yes, we have our share of strange folks in WP, not unlike other cities; however, I prefer to think of those folks as having a passion for a cause they believe in, but don’t want to be confused with the facts. And it was a passion for the facts that I most appreciated from Steve Leary and Sarah Sprinkel during the campaign. Kudos to Pete Weldon as well for his attention to detail when presenting the facts regarding many of the issues brought before the Commission (and in this blog), not to mention the time spent researching same.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well said Mr. Weldon as usual. As often is the case, this misguided anonymous writer has taken to calling people names and does not even realize that he/she is making the problem worse. Sounds like a sore loser to me. There was plenty of rumors and misinformation floating around about all four candidates, but there is also plenty of on the record comments, letters and e-mails from Mrs. Jackson to reveal her true character. We have a beautiful city and a commission that cares so let’s all relax and let them do the civic duty for which they have volunteered.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Weldon,

    You have had many “Anonymous” contributors, but as long as their comments were lockstep with yours, there was no concern that they were anonymous. Again, ironically, my comment simply pointed out that there was much misinformation and even more disinformation about Ms. Jackson and her candidacy. Yet that comment was described by you as containing “vitriol and paranoia.” You miss the point, Mr. Weldon, as I anticipated that you would. I have personally heard multiple people call Ms. Jackson a “dog hater” and much worse. Really, is that “passion” or simply just gross ignorance or perhaps something else altogether? If you are, in fact, passionate about the issue of civility in the political process, the negative, vitriolic campaign against Ms. Jackson was an embarrassment to our city. Yet, you never spoke out against it. Shame on you for such a double standard. We may disagree on who the best candidate was for that position, but once you chose to involve yourself in local politics through the manner and means as you did your omission was nothing short of intellectual dishonesty. Moreover, I would never even have considered writing my comment (because the race was over) but for the fact that I then saw various individuals throughout the city claim that civility reigned in the Sprinkel campaign. That was more than I could stomach. Yes, let us watch and see how they perform, but, more importantly, if it is civility that you want in this city, then let us see it practiced by everyone! If not, then let’s take the gloves off and subject all of the candidates to the scrutiny that you chose to place upon Ms. Jackson. I can live with either approach, as I want nothing more than an even-handed and fair process. The best and brightest will then have a better chance of rising to the top, instead of the election resembling a high school student body race. I will not hold my breath waiting for that to occur, though. Again, not having paid much attention to Winter Park politics before this election, frankly, I was surprised and bothered by much of it.

  15. Interesting comment.

    Please note that I post virtually every comment I receive. The few I have not posted have been so nonconstructive they did not warrant response or add value.

    I clearly documented my concerns about Bonnie Jackson’s candidacy early on and did so directly to Bonnie, as well as on this blog. I did not exclude any positive comments about Bonnie Jackson received on this blog (I only recall one). I welcome all sincere expressions of frustration and thoughtful comments on all subjects.

    I do not and cannot control or manage what other people say or do. If someone were to document the spreading of lies about Bonnie Jackson I would point that out. I received no such information.

    I acknowledge your need to accuse me of “intellectual dishonesty.” I completely disagree with such characterization and I believe the facts support my case.

    I have gone through this process myself. The very act of putting yourself up for office invites scrutiny. Both candidates and supporter should expect it and encourage it.

    Bottom line, if you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen.

    Sorry your candidate lost. I have been there too.

  16. Gleeful Cheerful Hopeful 3/11 says:

    “a dog-hater” and worse? You’re kidding, right? No one had to spread rumors about her. She has been on display in public and in emails for over 2 years. Pete has taken the heat by exposing Bonnie Jackson not as a dog-hater, but by posting her audio comments, her emails and her policie report. She was not ready for public office. In a close election you can say rumors and underhanded tactics my have helped a candidate over another, but when it’s a 2-1 margin, the problem is the candiate and their POSITIONS/PHILOSOPHY. She could’ve been the 2nd coming of Mother Theresa and still lost the election. She and Mr. Callahan completely missed the boat on the issues of the campaign. And all their suppporters missed the same boat.

    Just like the union members who are mad at governors around the U.S., you misread the issues.

  17. Ellie Warner says:

    It’s interesting that the poster just becoming aware of nasty politics in Winter Park uses the well worn “lining their pockets” smear just as he/she laments the politics of personal destruction. She is new to this, but uses a disingenuous tactic that’s been around for a while here in WP. Accusing a candidate of running for financial gain is a serious charge, and it was made again by a candidate, in writing, during this election. Then the ridiculous hit piece against Sprinkel was thematically consistent & the only new twist this year was there was a real name and address attached to it. Though sent by a non-resident, it was not anonymous, nor was it sent out by a faceless PAC violating election law in various creative ways. So in that sense, it was a break-through hit mail piece from the side of the WP political spectrum that routinely uses “lining their pockets”, “buying a commission seat”, “stands to benefit financially” insinuations of underhanded motives. Look for these phrases as a sign of a very weak argument.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Weldon:

    Let me set a few things straight, pulling together the 2 prior postings, your responses, and those of others.

    Your comment – “(the anonymous author offered the comment on this October 2010 post).” I posted to this blog because despite the fact that in the days prior to the election I had come across a large number of extremely unpleasant postings regarding Bonnie Jackson, this was the only one I could find AFTER the election. Perhaps you felt that one had to remain or someone might actually notice.

    Despite the fact that she was not an elected official and had not put into place the dog fee, the FFPP identified the issue (which really should have been a non-issue) with her. The postings all centered around this one, singular (non) issue. Ms. Jackson’s issues were 1) consistency in application of the rules; 2) fiscal responsibility; and 3) maintenance of our environmental assets. At least that is what all of her literature said (interestingly, as the campaign wore on, so did Sarah Sprinkel’s literature, so someone must have thought it was a good message). GLEEFUL says that Ms. Jackson “completely missed the boat on the issues of the campaign.” So, I suppose that two-thirds of WP is for inconsistency; fiscal irresponsibility, and destruction of the environmental assets. Given Sarah Sprinkel’s last mailer or two, she must have missed that same boat to which GLEEFUL refers. If GLEEFUL is suggesting that there were entirely different issues, I would love to hear them. Sarah Sprinkle had no real platform. She was the most vacuous politician I have seen in some time. So, again, I would love to hear what those missed issues were. Educate me.

    As to Ellie, allow me to say it again, but slowly, I have never been part of WP politics. So, any word choice herein is strictly my own. I was not referring to the candidates but to those individuals who stand to gain by having these particular candidates in office. Even a political neophyte can figure that out pretty quickly.

    To Mr. Weldon, I say this. You state, “Bottom line, if you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen.” That would suggest that your pleas for civility were entirely empty, as I surmised was the case. I will simply refer back to my last posting. Either way is fine with me – let’s just apply the standards equally to all candidates.

    I, for one, will stay out of the kitchen. No one should have put up with this sort of nastiness just because they want to serve their community.

  19. No posts or comments published on this blog have ever been removed.

    I am sorry “anonymous” feels so badly about the political process in Winter Park.

  20. Gleeful Cheerful Hopeful 3/11 says:

    Anonymous, I know losing stinks. But you need to run for office or get involved and make a contribution. Since you are new to politics in WP, your fresh voice will be welcomed. And Sarah Sprinkel did run on issues. Watch the Orlando SEntinel hour long video interview.