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January 05, 2010


Chris Bouchard

Brent, I would disagree with you on the arbitrary nature of the decision-making process which has been followed by the Parks Board, I worked for the Parks Department for about 5 years and am very aware of their decision-making process, and it most certainly is not arbitrary. I will not say that I have always agreed with their decisions, but said decisions are without a doubt systematic.

Although, many decisions made in history seem arbitrary by some (usually by those with a less comprehensive view of the issue), they are made based on a finite set of knowledge and experience and within the framework of some systematic measure, the Parks Board decisions are no different. Again, I will not say that I have always agreed with theirs or with those decisions made by other political bodies, I will say only it is what it is. I do know that political bodies in this system we call a democracy, have rules that they must follow and abide by. I know that they are provided certain information by their staffs and are afforded certain inputs from the communities in which they serve (I am sure we do not disagree on the fact that certain informational inputs can and are skewed for various reasons on occasion).

In listening to your points it seems to me that you are highlighting the fact that a recent and perhaps past developed set of guidelines seemingly contradict the establishment of a current dog-park configuration (i.e., Penn Valley), in this I would say you are right. I would also go onto say that the park in question was the first such park formally developed within KC, all prior to the development of the idea of having and/or establishing numerous such parks within the city and I would also go onto say that I do think that Penn Valley dog-park will in the future increase in size and it’s configuration will fall more in line with said guidelines. Given the changing environment and the popular support of developing additional such parks, it stands to reason that the Parks Department would begin to develop a uniformed set of guidelines to regulate future such developments (this makes perfect sense and is organizationally, politically and correctly a proper move by such a governing entity).

As to the Citizen Task Force, this entity was a political band-aid to a sticky political subject and was set up to look at the issue through a different set of eyes so-to-speak, ultimately, it was not set up to be the final arbiter on the subject, but just to provide some additional views (that it did). At no point in time, was the Parks Board subordinated to the Dog Park Task Force, nor was it obligated to accept one or all recommendations from such a group. To those that argue about objectiveness within said Task Force, I would only say that it’s make-up could in no way be considered objective when several members of the WOOF group were made members thereof (to include the Sunnyside Dog-park plan Architect). If that is to be considered an objective make-up, then I guess my definition of objective is severely lacking.

Back to decision-making by entities like the Parks Board, again I would reiterate that they are obligated to make parks related decisions that are in the best interest of the City as a whole, not just one park’s neighborhood area, not just one group’s agenda and not just one person’s personal vision. I have studied government for the better part of my life, I have worked for the community at various levels and I have participated in the democratic process, and this I say with a clear conscience and from an objective point of view - the decision to place a dog-park in Sunnyside Park is a mistake for so many reasons and the idea of developing a uniformed set of guidelines for such a dog-park in the Kansas City area is a logical one (by a governing body such as the Parks Board) despite the players and egos involved.

I will not say that exceptions should never by considered given certain circumstances, but any such exception should not easily be made.


Chris Bouchard

Hey Brent, the term ‘success’ is relative a person(s) point of view, I know of at least two individuals whose pooches were killed while visiting the dog-park at Penn Valley, I do not suspect that they consider the park a resounding success. I have been there and I have seen many failings of the park from a public planner’s point of view as well as from a dog owner’s point of view. I am not saying it is not popular, for many it is. The point is, that we make assumptions that we believe should apply to everyone, they should not.

Again, exceptions to any rule should be made available in certain circumstances, but not because a few want this or that. In public governance, there are more issues at hand than just some residents asking to have an amenity put into place.

The Rivermarket area may represent one of those exceptions, it may not, I would only say that in an instance such as this, that significant consideration, thought and a due process be followed if such an exception is to be granted.

I guarantee that the Penn Valley dog-park will be expanded in the future, while I was at Parks I heard of discussions regarding such being engaged in. I believe that a parking lot was partially if not fully funded by tax dollars and put in there. The Parks Department is also working on developing other dog-parks throughout the City, this will happen I have little doubt, but they need to be placed strategically in every sense of the word and a set of guidelines (that not everyone will agree with) will serve as the parameters for the said design, planning and development of such amenities. A process like this represents good governance any way you cut it. You cannot satisfy everyone all the time.

What I am hearing from you and others discussing the Sunnyside plan, is that their point of view is not being recognized, and guess what, for them it may not be. Not everyone will be happy with every public decision and that is just a cold and hard fact. Again all those arguing for their point of view do not see all the issues at hand and/or many of these folks simply will not consider other points of view, it has been my experience that Debb Hipp in her cause is doing exactly that, ignoring other points of view.

I guess we must just agree to disagree.


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