2022 Update on Fence and Parking

For those not on our email list, here’s a copy of an email to membership sent out on January 16, 2022:
Greetings and Happy New Year to all!   I’m writing today with a couple of Park updates:  the new split-rail fence and our various parking problems.
The New Fence
Several of you have asked why the new fence at the far end of the Park was installed.  The fence blocks off the farthest creek access point that many of us have been accustomed to use.    Although it is very disappointing to all of us to lose that farthest stream access, there are reasons for the change. 
First, the fence is intended to prevent our dogs from wandering off Park property into neighboring private properties.  Unfortunately, not all participants in the off-leash permit program are able to control and recall their dogs as the program and State Law require.  When dogs leave the Park and enter private property, it calls into question the sustainability of the off-leash program.  If the fence helps to keep dogs within Park limits, it will support public perception of the workability of our beloved off-leash privileges.  Also, keeping the dogs within Park boundaries it will keep our dogs safer.
Second, Lower Merion is under State mandate to reduce stream pollution. West Mill Creek Park is one of the sites that has been designated to receive remedial measures including additional planting on the stream bank to reduce erosion and polluting sediments and bring us into compliance.  Over the past couple of years of pandemic, foot traffic (both 2 and 4 legged) in the riparian buffer has compacted the soil and damaged existing plant life.  By preventing foot traffic near the stream, the fence will help to reduce water pollution and maintain the natural beauty of the Park.  As a reminder, the off-leash program rules have always stated that people and dogs are not permitted in the area between any of the split rail fences and the stream.
The good news is that the other three existing stream access points will remain open so our dogs can still play in the creek.  We hope you will understand and support the Township’s decision to install the new fence which we believe will benefit our community as a whole in the long run. 
Parking Issues
As we all know, our parking lot cannot accommodate all the people who want to visit the Park, and illegal parking is creating dangerous traffic problems.  Currently, the Board of Commissioners and Parks Department are actively evaluating the situation for appropriate and effective solutions.  Unfortunately, the location of the Park makes finding a solution more challenging then it may seem, as there are very specific traffic safety regulations to be interpreted and multiple governmental entities involved.  We are working with Commissioner Bernheim and the Parks Department on the parking issue.  We will support parking improvements that will make parking easier and safer.  Because the Park’s size is limited and it is already suffering from overuse, we are focusing on advocating for the creation of one or more additional dog parks to absorb the demand for this amenity rather than on major expansion of the parking lot.
We hope everyone will continue to enjoy the Park.  If you arrive to find all legal parking spaces taken, Rolling Hill Park is also available for off leash dog walking, and numerous Township parks allow on-leash walks.  The Township website has a list of dog-friendly parks  (scroll down the page to find the list).