PennDOT squares away Triangle Dog Park rumors

The Department confirms that the park will close in the coming months

With confusion, rumors and even a misinformed petition having circulated for the past few weeks among those who frequent Triangle Dog Park regarding its future, PennDOT hopes to help clear things up. Although a clip in the Wednesday, April 27, 2016, edition of the Star announced the park would be closed in the coming weeks to “store construction staging,” the department has confirmed the park, located at 898 Aramingo Ave., will be closed permanently as the result of a plan to widen the I-95 ramp.

According to Chelsea Lacey-Mabe, the digital relations coordinator for PennDOT, the department has been in dialogue with the Friends of Triangle Park for months, and said they were made aware of the plans for the park as they arose. She added the department had a meeting with two Triangle Dog Park goers in April 2016, dog park community member and resident of Thompson and Norris streets Mike Dehel, and a woman who has since relocated. She said the department also later hosted a round of public meetings about the project in November 2016.

Yet, although the department is set on repurposing this piece of land, needed to begin the fourth phase of Revive 95, it has offered Triangle park-goers two alternative properties (which it also owns) to be used to open a new Triangle Dog Park location. These properties include the lot at Hewson and Susquehanna Avenue and the lot in the interchange west of I-95, east of Girard and north of Aramingo (referring to the patch of land that is under the highway along Wildey Street).

The only requirement set forth by the department regarding the usage of a new location is that, if the dog park community plans to utilize one of the other available spaces it must raise the funds for the building and space itself. It must also enter into a maintenance agreement with PennDOT to ensure elements of the lot (such as tree maintenance and mowing) will be taken care of as the department will not maintain the land for them.

“PennDOT has been in communication with the Triangle group for approximately the last 18 months,” Lacey-Mabe said. “PennDOT owns the land and has allowed Triangle to use it, but Triangle has no formal claim to the land — it is in PennDOT’s right of way.”

She added the I-95 GR4 project will be let (the term used to signify when the project will be opened to contractors to bid on) at the end of 2017, and construction is expected to begin in spring 2018. However, the staging/storage area could be utilized sooner rather than later.

The 95 Revive site is available for additional reference and background information on the project. http://www.95revive.com/i95/project-areas/girard-avenue-interchange-to-allegheny-castor-interchange-(gir)

Yet, despite PennDOT’s confirmation of notice, Thomas Gramlich, a regular at the dog park who often helps take care of the space out of his own pocket, said an article shared with him by Dehel, was the first and only piece of information he had seen regarding park plans. Within the newspaper clip it reads that, “The dog park, which has approximately 196 dogs in its membership base, will likely be closed to the public some time around the beginning of the fourth phase of the Revive 95, as the space will be used to store construction staging.”

“Afterwards I decided to write a petition and see what happens,” Gramlich, who first started going to the park years ago, said, “I’ve gotten good feedback from the petition signers, but I do not know of any communication going on between PennDOT and the people of the park. I don’t know what the next step is though, as I’m still new to this making-a-petition thing.”

His petition can be found at: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-triangle-dog-park.html.

While his petition does not mention the alternatively proposed replacement lots by PennDOT, or that the park is actually being closed to widen the ramp, the petition has since reached and upset many Triangle Dog Park regulars. For example, Rachael Cabral, who lives nearby in a townhouse with no backyard, said she relies on the space for her dog to get exercise daily.

“The proximity to our home allows me to take [my dog] before and after work. There are few parks in the city where dogs can run and exercise off-leash, and this kind of exercise is necessary for a dog to be a healthy and happy,” Cabral said. “I chose the location of my home last time I moved due to its proximity to this dog park.”

Similarly, Kevin Kinkead said he takes his dog, Baxter, to the park every day. However, when made aware of PennDOT’s plans to permanently close Triangle Dog Park and move it someone else, he said he is simply appreciative the department has agreed to give the dog park community the land to replace it.

“I think people are appreciative of the work that’s being done here, and the fact that they’re looking to replace the dog park with something else once the project’s done,” Kinkead said. “But walking to [the other closest dog parks] is too far for some people and they’re too small.”

He concluded by explaining that he thinks there’s definitely a way for dog park goers and PennDOT to “meet in the middle,” and that while the project’s going on he hopes the two parties can find a temporary place for a makeshift dog park.