FREMANTLE council will create a new off-lead dog area near Stevens Reserve to try and ease tensions between cricketers and dog walkers.
At its last monthly meeting, the council approved the new area at Virginia Ryan Park on Watkins Street, while also reintroducing controversial “chicane” style gates at Stevens.
The non-closing gates are intended to keep owners on the ball so their pooches don’t wander out onto Stevens Street while they’re distracted chatting or checking the latest Socceroo update.
But a previous trial was howled down because many argued that dogs can be easily distracted and could run through the gates and in front of cars before anything can be done to stop them.
Michael Jung lives just across the road with his well-trained, one-year-old American staffy Murphy and says summer can be a pain because weekend cricketers are often still playing in the cooler afternoons, just when dog walkers are itching to get out.
Mr Jung says it’ll be good having Virginia Ryan as a back-up, but described the chicane gates as “bullshit, really”.
“When they did the consultation nobody wanted the gates, but they did them anyway,” Mr Jung said.
Except the Fremantle Cricket Club, which has for years complained about dogs disrupting games, the odd pile of poo that didn’t get picked up, and damage to its turf wicket area.
Fremantle mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge is sympathetic to the cricketers’ attempts to protect their wicket.
“Some dog owners may not be aware that the covers are placed over the cricket pitches to stop them from getting wet when it rains.
“Even the smallest tear in the covers from a dog’s claws can allow the rain to seep in and ruin the pitch, which can result in matches being delayed or abandoned,” the mayor said.
“The covers are also very expensive for the cricket club to replace when they get damaged.
“If dog owners and the cricket club are going to successfully share Stevens Reserve it’s really important to keep dogs off the centre wicket areas, especially when the covers are down.”
Ms Fitzhardinge said another initiative the council was introducing was to make Stevens a leash-only area when the covers were on, which would be indicated by red flags around the perimeter.
At the council meeting resident Kirsten Nolan said all the onus seemed to be on her fellow walkers to solve the problem while their opinions were ignored.
“What concerns me is there has been absolutely no effort at compromise betwen the club and the community of dog walkers at Stevens Reserve,” Ms Nolan said.
“I don’t understand why really simple compromises like the club putting the temporary mesh fencing around the pitch when cricket season’s on; it seems such a simple fix to such a problem and would make a lot of the angst go away.”
But she applauded the fencing of another off-lead area at Knutsford Park and urged the city to develop a strategy specifically looking at the needs of the dog walking community.
by STEVE GRANT