Proposed off-leash dog Park

Submissions closing on 08 October 2021, 05:00 PM

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Council is looking for an alternative safe place for local dog owners to exercise their canine friends in Beechworth.

This proposed dog park will encourage social connections among dog owners, promote recreation and active use of a community space.

At present, the town’s declared off-leash area is Baarmutha Park Recreation Reserve, which also includes the Beechworth Golf Course. There are risks involved in combining these two activities, and Council is seeking to find an alternative safe place for local dogs and their owners.

Background

Council undertook a review of off-leash dog walking areas in Beechworth in late 2018 in response to concerns expressed about at the incompatibility of dog walking and golfing activities at Baarmutha Park.

As part of the review, a community survey and three drop in sessions were held to better understand the issues and consider suggestions for better management of off-leash dog areas across Beechworth.

To progress the concept of a fenced off leash dog park at Wallace Park, Council engaged a landscape architect to develop a concept site plan and cost estimates. The cost of a fenced off-leash park is estimated at $120,000.

View or download the draft concept plan for Wallace Park(PDF, 3MB)

Have your say

Council considered a report on the issue at its July meeting, and is now keen to hear from the community on the draft concept plan for Wallace Park. In particular, Council wants to know whether there is community support for the location, the investment required, the features proposed in the park and any other feedback that will assist Council with its decision making.

Use the form below to provide your feedback.

Council staff will also conduct an on-site session at Wallace Park and Beechworth Library on the following dates to allow further consultation before a final report is tabled at Council’s November meeting:

  • Wallace Park: Tuesday 14 September 2021, 5:30pm
  • Baarmutha Park: Tuesday 5 October 2021, 5:30pm

Under the current public health advice, gatherings are limited in public places to groups of 10, which means that numbers at each session will be limited. 

We have a booking system for the Baarmutha Park session in place to ensure no groups larger than 10 people will be present at any given time.

The session will be broken up into 4 x 15 minute intervals and the time slots will close once capacity is reached. Please click the below button to book the time slot you would like to attend:

Book my spot

Please keep in mind that if you intend to attend this session, you may still be required to wait upon arrival so that we can ensure we adhere to COVIDSafe requirements. 

Click here to view form.

  1. Angela Verde
    Please focus on basic infrastructure for residents such as constructing footpaths prior to considering infrastructure expenditure on animals.
  2. Rhonda Thexton
    Thanks for offering this type of area as I can only go for coffee which see costs add up when I want to meet a friend in Beechworth. This allows like minded people to get together and socialise and gives our dogs area to play with other dogs. Dog owners will often have little time to complain and can benefit from exercise as well as the dogs. I hope we will get an off leash dog area very soon.
    1. Chris Russell
      We already have an off leash area.
  3. Mark Eltringham
    Much as I would love to have a dog and somewhere for it to play I would much prefer to be able to leave my house and be able to go for a walk on a made footpath rather than the road. It's too far for me to drive to Beechworth to use this anyway.
    Please some common sense.
    1. Rhonda Thexton
      I took my dog for a walk on the rail trail yesterday, very easy walking on a made surface. No bumps and good surface to accommodate walkers of every capacity. Bike riders considerate of me walking, bin provided along the track should you need to put green bags in it. Thanks Indigo shire.
  4. Aaron Haw
    What isn't well known is that the Golf Club operate and maintain the course themselves with no assistance from the council. The golf club has one employee it can afford through memberships and green fees, which regularly mows, the rest of the improvements and maintenance is conducted through volunteers. It is special to have a Golf Course which bring visitors to our town, either through casual hits or in competitions which contributes valuable income to Beechworth. I am supportive of Dog walkers being able to safely walk their dogs in an environment conducive to this activity (no one wants to see a person or dog get hit accidently by a golf ball).
    1. Rhonda Thexton
      Thanks Aaron for your comment. Please see my comment relating to a walk I took my dog on. It was a good walk but no interaction with other dogs or people. When walking at Barrmutha Park I can let my dog have a run, watching him for snakes and if he poos etc. I always pick up after him whether on lead or off and if at any time a golfer is around I keep away from their area. Sometimes we have to be accomodating in life for others so have to compromise whether we like it or not.
  5. Mark Eltringham
    Here is a thought. Instead of spending over $100,000 to install a new off lease dog area in Beechworth and then having to replicate the spending in 6 or more other towns within the Shire why not repurpose the old tennis courts in Tanswell Street. Area already fenced and has water, power shelter etc. Council apparently is currently building new Tennis courts in Baarmutha Park. Added note to Beechworth Golfers. I was a committee member for many years of the Rutherglen Golf Club so I know what volunteers do to look after golf courses in Public Parks.
  6. Deanne Drage
    As someone who has been attacked by a dog off a lead whilst I was walking in the centre of Beechworth I commend Indigo Shire Council for this initiative. I also congratulate Council for handling the attack report swiftly, professionally and sensitively. I believe the investment in the off leash area is appropriate, necessary and reasonably priced with low maintenance costs.

    My only concern is viewing this project in isolation - what are the plans for the swimming pool? The feasibility study was completed and it is with Council (as at July 2021). For some weird reason I can't open the Council meeting agendas and minutes online and I cannot see a copy of the draft report anywhere. If the decision is that the pool stays where it is, consideration needs to be given to expansion of the pool facility, parking and traffic management.
  7. Alexandra K
    I agree with Angela. Or how about using the area to build an indoor pool and/or upgrading the existing pool area. The idea of spending over $100,000 on a playground for dogs instead of basic infrastructure is absurd.
    On a side note, a suggest the survey be revised to address the true issues at hand instead of a skewed survey to validate council's proposal.
    1. Rhonda Thexton
      Quite agree Alexandra, a heated pool is needed in Beechworth, for the pleasure of residents and for medical rehab situations.
  8. Chris Russell
    The Beechworth golf course is an underused facility, except for dog walking. If necessary, a morning and evening time could be set aside for dog walking, instead of the golf course frequently not being used at all. There is always risk when there are people present who are not playing, as at any golf course. There have been no more accidents than at any other course in the region. The Beechworth golf course does not have greens. As such, it is not a formal sporting ground and it should not exclude the wider community.
    1. Chris Kinnaird
      I'm not sure why the presence of sand greens disqualifies the Beechworth golf course as a formal sporting ground Chris Russell, but nevertheless I agree with your proposal for set dog walking times in the early morning and late afternoon. There is very little golf played during those times you mentioned.
      To compensate BGC for any perceived restriction in access to the course, perhaps council could 'buy in' as an active stakeholder by making an increase to their annual contribution to the golf club and grounds in lieu of spending the $120K. If they chose to use it, this might give council some increased leverage in any relevant decisions of the golf club going forward.
      As one of the other correspondents pointed out, the proposed dog park abuts the swimming pool and carport. So at the very least, no decision should be made and certainly no money spent on a dog park until the proposal for the expansion of the swimming pool precinct is settled.
  9. Lyn Blackman
    If all of the times to limit dog walkers access to the golf course, during a pandemic is the least appropriate of times. More young families are coming to our district. Instead of taking one safe, reasonably secure area away from them and restricting its use to an aging few, you should be thinking of encouraging them to go there more often.
    Who owns the land behind the golf course, the untidy bush land?
    If it belongs to council why not clear more of that for public access?
    You have a golf club, a netball club etc etc. Perhaps Indigo Shire needs a dog owners group. All dog owners want to do is walk their dogs, not go for drinks, enter competitions, and exclude others from their territory!
    1. Chris Russell
      Yes, Lyn, very good point. The solution is to restrict dog walking to set hours in the morning and evening without golf being played at the same time eg 6.30 am - 8am and 5.30 pm - 7 pm. That deals with both the safety issue and the need otherwise for council to commit more than $100,000 to another facility.
  10. donna jack
    $100K seems like a lot of money, considering there are currently parks in Beechworth that already have good bones for making an offleash dog park. E.g Newtown Park - old tennis court, toilet and BBQ facilities, playground for the kids, off street parking and the potential to convert the section closest to the Pennyweight paddocks into another gated area with similar facilities
  11. Warren Paul
    Council has only considered allegations by the golf club about the incompatibility of dog walking and golfing at Baarmutha Park in the report presented at the July Council meeting, which suggests that the recommendations in the report are biased, unconsciously or otherwise. The risk analysis appears to be a red herring because it would seem to imply that any activity within the shire that has a low probability of a major consequence should be avoided, such as using skate parks, swimming at lakes, etc. To the best of my knowledge, no one has died or been seriously injured by a dog or a golf ball in the 20 years that Baarmutha Park has been an off leash area. Indeed if you walk during the permitted times, as many of us do, it is rare to see a golfer. It would be an incredible waste of a community resource, and certainly not in the public's interest, if the area was reserved for the exclusive use of golfers. There are precedents for designated off leash areas on sporting grounds--i.e., on ovals used for football, soccer, and cricket--for example, at Bayside (see https://www.bayside.vic.gov.au/walking-your-dog-bayside and https://www.baysidedogownersgroup.com.au/blog) and at Kingston (https://www.kingston.vic.gov.au/Services/Pets/Dog-Ownership/Dog-Off-Leash-Areas), to name two city councils. Furthermore, off leash dog walking at country golf courses in Australia is common practice, and as far as I know no one has died or been seriously injured by a dog or a golf ball as a result of the activity. Contrary to the assumptions in the Council report, we are a responsible group of dog walkers, and through our recently formed Friends of Baarmutha Park group we have already solved the issue of dog litter, something that was not so easy to solve as a collection of individuals. We also discuss techniques for dog recall (many of us with larger dogs use remote collars which vibrate to aid recall), and we try to educate members in the etiquette for walking dogs at Baarmutha Park. Some of our members, and others that are not on Facebook, are golfers that also walk their dogs off leash at Baarmutha Park and would like to see that continue, so this is not an issue of dog walkers vs. golfers as it seems to have been portrayed by some. Our group would like to work with the Council and Committee of Management to ensure the space remains safe and useable by all, and we encourage Council representatives to join the group. There are far cheaper and more agreeable solutions to the problem of people walking on the course on competition days, which seems to be the main issue of concern identified by the club's president, than building an unsatisfactory dog park at a cost of $120K. We suggest that mediation be undertaken to find solutions to the concerns raised by some golfers.
    1. Mark Eltringham
      Some good comments from several people but surely its time to put a real perspective on this whole proposal. Over the past 18 months Golf Clubs in several Indigo Shire towns have been severely impacted by covid restrictions. These include not only Beechworth but also Rutherglen, Chiltern & Yackandandah. That has meant there has been hardly any weekly competitions, no tournaments or inter club events, no social or fundraising events, and no green fee players. The costs however of regular maintenance, watering, yearly weed control and overheads have not just gone away. Some of these Clubs may well not survive. Naturally other sporting bodies may be similarly affected. There has been minimum impact on the capacity of dog owners being able to exercise their pets however. Why then is the Indigo Shire persisting with this complete ill timed proposal to spend $120,000 to help the dog owners when the Golf Clubs, are in such dire positions.
      Please some common sense and a complete rethink of spending priorities in these difficult times is necessary.
    2. Chris Russell
      There is a strong argument that Council should consider an approach to resolving this problem that assists the Golf Club to manage better the facilities and the land available for playing golf. The first question to consider concerns whether an 18 hole course is even suitable for a small rural club that evidently has difficulties with maintenance, including keeping the sand greens in the condition required for Competition Golf. Why does the Club need to lease additional land at Barrmutha Park, when this is an area that could otherwise be restricted to off-leash dog walking in the interests of both golfers and dog owners?

  12. Sandra Williams
    *Couldn't agree more with Warren Paul's recent logical, even-handed and positive thinking on the retention of Baarmutha Park's extensive 34 hectares of crown land as opposed to Wallace Park's less than 1 hectare.

    *Everyone needs to accept responsibility for their actions and use common sense. Dog walkers should invariably adhere to the clean up and golf competition time rules. I try to remember to take green bags from home , but if not, I hope that the council keep the very limited dispensers routinely well -supplied. I've heard stories first hand recently of a dog walker being targeted by an irresponsible angry golfer. Come on people, don't spoil it for everyone!

    *As for risk from accidental golf ball strike ....no incidents to date and you're probably in more danger of being injured or killed by a falling eucalypt tree branch. Are we going to be forbidden from walking under trees in the park, or do we just look around and use personal commonsense ?

    *The Wallace Park open drains to the creek have a rainbow slick oozing up from them after wet weather.(Check out the one underneath the pathway near the Short St bridge end.)Council is aware of the general area's underground soil and water contamination, possibly by NAPL hydrocarbons as a legacy of the original Beechworth Gasworks being situated nearby. At the Thursday Sept 14th meeting there, little dogs walking on 'the grass' came back knee deep in mud.

    * What about the disabled dog owners using mobility scooters with their tethered dogs running beside? They don't need the added grief of having to clean up their dogs at home. A friend in this position dreads the thought of the confines of a little boggy,140sq metre area dedicated to small dogs off leash, as opposed to the firm driving ground, the discretion of movement and dog running freedom around the Baarmutha Park oval road.

    *For people who want to socialise and bring a picnic to an off leash area, how about council fences off a dedicated area in Baarmutha Park and provides a few rustic picnic tables for such e.g.under the trees between the entrance and the grandstand ?

    As Warren Paul suggests, mediation and inclusiveness will go a long way to solving problems.