With May comes the time for Blue Ridge residents to seemingly come out of hibernation – or at least we start seeing each other more enjoying the outdoors. You may have noticed our landscaping company hard at work with spring spruce up and preparation for increased activity at our two parks: Woodbine and the Beach Park. And you may have noticed the reflective tape hung all over the Beach Park play structure to prevent the killdeers from nesting nearby.
What does all that mean? It is time for my annual column devoted to park etiquette and use guidelines! During the late spring and summer, our parks get a lot of use by different people with different purposes and sometimes that can create problems. Although this may feel a little early in the season, here are some friendly reminders about perennial issues and ways we can all make our experience more enjoyable.
Pack it in/Pack it out.
Cabana renters are required to clean up their area and haul out all of their garbage. Groups that have impromptu picnics or barbecues should do it too. We simply don’t have enough bins or frequency of pick-up to handle back-to-back parties and picnics over the course of a sunny and busy weekend. One of the reasons we raised the Cabana rental cost was to help cover the cost of extra pick-ups (that are not easily scheduled). The basic tenant should be to try to leave things better than when you arrived.
Dogs – not necessarily everyone’s best friend.
Dog owners are probably the most consistent year around users of our parks and the beach. Issues arise, however, when dogs are sharing the space with more residents during the summer. We all love our own dogs. But we sometimes too easily forgive their transgressions which can range from being too aggressive with other dogs to being overly friendly with people who don’t like or are afraid of them to disturbing that intimate family picnic.
It’s a real benefit to be able to have a space for our dogs to run off-leash. But with that comes some responsibility to “know your dog” and how they will react in certain situations and then be able to control them. In our family, we have one dog that doesn’t appreciate young puppies running up to him so if we see one approaching, we will leash our dog and avoid the greeting. Our other dog, if given the opportunity will leap up on a picnic table while a nice family is enjoying a meal. If we see that the Cabana is being rented or a group at the barbecues, we’ll keep our dogs on leash and do a pass through straight to the beach.
It’s all pretty common sense. As is the notion that you should keep careful watch on your dog so that you can clean-up after them. No one likes to be out there throwing the Frisbee or something and then find an unwanted substance on your shoe.
Beach Park – After Hours
Every year there are teen parties down at the Beach Park that can cause problems. Infractions include propping the gates open all night to circumvent closing time, trash and broken bottles left on the Beach, and fires left burning to be found by early morning dog walkers. And often it can be noisy for surrounding neighbors. Sometimes we can determine party attendees through FOB tracking and the gate cameras but not always. Sometimes parents can be notified but not always. In some cases warnings can be given and if there are repeated violations, there is the potential of FOB deactivation. I’m not sure what the answer is but a summer parental reminder about park rules and responsible clean-up wouldn’t hurt. For the most part our communal usage of our parks works really well. There are just a few issues that come up every year. We are all owners of these neighborhood gems and we all are lucky to get to use them.
I’ll end my column this month with a big thank you to someone who helps improve our parks every year, Fred Kern. He monitors our benches and picnic tables for maintenance needs and repairs them. This year he painted and replaced several benches just in time for those summer barbecues. He was helped by someone I know pretty well, Rhea Wallace. THANK YOU both!