|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.
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).
Every year in March, we send out a survey form with our Annual Newsletter to get member feedback and ideas. We compile every comment we receive by subject matter, then offer a response so everyone knows that their ideas were considered, whether or not they can be implemented at the time. Here they are!
Your comments: “I noticed many “new” aggressive dogs in the park lately—not sure how to teach owners to control dogs. Very crowded due to Covid!” ** “We have been daily park goers for the past 4 years and truly love the park. However, since the pandemic, we have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of dogs at the park. Also, there has been an increase of larger and more aggressive dogs at the park. Many people are not aware of the off-leash tag requirement. Could a large sign be posted on the entry gate? Could the tag permit be enforced especially on weekends?”
- On off leash permit enforcement: The Township has a number of open, unfilled paid positions as Parks Steward. Parks Stewards are not dedicated to single parks, but do permit monitoring and minor maintenance chores at all the parks. If you or anyone you know would like to take on this job, please apply! If you google Lower Merion Parks Steward that will bring you to the jobs website where the position is posted. Please note that Parks & Rec employees can request people to obtain permits and give out literature, but cannot issue citations—only the police can do that. We plan to discuss stepped-up police enforcement with the Township shortly.
- On aggression: Information about what to do if you experience or witness aggressive behavior (by dogs or people) is posted on our website under the Gettin’ Along tab. In addition, under “Etiquette” in the same tab, we have posted information on canny strategies to help reduce dog fights and other unpleasant incidents. We think these pieces are very helpful and would love it if everyone would read them!
Your comments: “Is there a way to permanently block the illegal parking that leads to the overcrowding?”** “Clarify where parking is allowed and where it is not.” ** ** “Is there any way to add parking? ** “Can you ask Gateway to allow parking when school is not in session? “**
- On blocking illegal parking and clarifying legal parking spots: Yes, illegal and dangerous parking on the grassy area at Mill Creek and Old Gulph Roads, and near the park entrance on Mill Creek Road is a problem. This Fall, the Township plans to add plantings and other landscaping that will make these areas less attractive as parking spots. In addition, they are adding “no parking” signs and have asked the police to step up parking enforcement efforts. We have also asked the Township to put up markers on the interior of the parking lot fences to help people identify parking spaces since painted parking lines aren’t an option on the gravel. This should help eliminate wasted space issues in our lot.
- On increasing our parking space: Even though all of us hate the frustration, we are not advocating for more parking spots. Because we believe our current problems with dog aggression and damage to park ecology largely result from over-usage of the space, adding spaces seems counter-productive. If you get to the park and find no legal parking space, please walk your dog elsewhere.
Your comments: “Maybe a trash can at the other end of the park.” ** “More ‘poop’ trash cans.” : “Consider placing a sign similar to that at Rolling Hill Park, stating that masks and six foot social distancing are appropriate.”
- On covid restrictions: We checked with the Township and they say that there are no masking requirements in place at this time for outdoor parks. Of course, that could change any time, and if it does we expect signage will be posted accordingly.
- On trash cans: With respect to the additional trash bin, we sympathize but are not currently recommending this. Given that we have three trash receptacles already, we feel that adding another detracts from our goal to preserve the natural atmosphere of the park as well as adding to the burden on the township maintenance crew. For now, please just carry the bag around to the receptacles nearer the park entrance. (It’s a long way for a busy park crew member to drag a heavy, stinky trash can on foot!)
Your comments: “Plant even more trees, shrubs, and perennials.” ** “The riparian area (between stream and split rail fence) is supposed to be off limits to people and dogs in order to protect against stream pollution–but trails from frequent foot traffic are appearing in it, especially right along the creek.”
Our response: YES to more plantings! Every year we walk the park with our naturalist consultant and add native plants intended to capture and filter pollutants, improve water quality, and add habitat for wildlife. As to degradation of the riparian area, we are very concerned about this. We cannot currently plant trees and shrubs to block the illegal trails because Township remediation plans to comply with State anti-pollution legislation are in process and might conflict with our planting plans. We are monitoring this situation closely.
Your comments: “Maybe stone or river rocks in the area where it gets very muddy.” ** “The loop in the back gets really muddy with rain/storm. Maybe a small path of wood chips/mulch?**
On river stones: We are advised that river stones piled on top of the muddy central area would quickly become buried in more dirt as leaves and other organic matter decompose on top of them, and they have limited ability to absorb water. Instead, we are planting native plants and trees with deep roots, which will actively absorb water, and also filter and clean the water before it enters Mill Creek.
On wood chips: We ran the idea past the Township. In their experience the wood chips are too light and will quickly wash away in our flood-prone park, so they don’t recommend this solution.
A number of people expressed interest in volunteer opportunities. We tried to respond individually to each of you, but if we goofed and missed you, don’t give up on us! All official work days will be announced by email, and if you are willing to work on your own, or have something specific in mind that you’d like to do, please do contact us.
Your comments: “The park is looking beautiful! Thanks for all the work you do.” ** *” “Thanks for the inclusive atmosphere!” ** “Thank you for all the work you do.” ** “Thanks for all you do – this is our dog’s favorite park!” ** “I am not at WMC very often – it’s a 20 minute drive – but enjoy it and appreciate all the maintenance and work put in.” ** ”Thanks for all you do!” ** “I am grateful for our wonderful leadership!”
Our response: Thanks so much for the positive feedback. It means a lot to all on our Steering Committee!
Every year in March, we send out a survey form with our Annual Newsletter to get member feedback and ideas. We compile every comment we receive by subject matter, then offer a response so everyone knows that their ideas were considered, whether or not they can be implemented at the time. Here it is for 2020!
Member comments: **Continued work on water absorption and adding bird- and bee- attracting plants! ** Plant some trees in the centermost area, near the little wetland (feeder stream) area between the wooden walkway ad the path next to Mill Creek. ** Mitigate standing water issue on rainy days. ** Install drains to carry water into Mill Creek ** Maybe river stones down middle where it’s so muddy and holds water. **
Our response: We heartily endorse your planting suggestions! One of our top priorities is to continue our ongoing program to plant native trees, shrubs, and perennials. Native plants not only reduce mud by drinking up excess water, but provide a host of other benefits including enhancing water quality in the stream, reducing flooding, and providing wildlife habitat. Be aware that our park is in a floodplain and to a certain extent periodic flooding/wet spots are natural and ecologically beneficial. We are seeking a balance between park user comfort and ecological benefits, so a completely dry park is not actually a goal.
In re drains: our park has three existing drains and, for the reasons explained above, we do not plan to advocate for more at this time.
In re river stones: we are advised that river stones piled on top of the muddy central area would quickly become buried in more dirt as leaves and other organic matter decompose on top of them, and they have limited ability to absorb water. Native plants and trees with deep roots, on the other hand, will actively absorb water, and also filter and clean the water before it enters Mill Creek.
Trail Quality Concerns
Member Comments: **Can gravel be covered with wood chips? My dog avoids walking on large gravel chunks whenever she can – yes, I know she’s fussy.**
Our response: With respect to covering the lumpy parts of the gravel trail with wood chips, we ran the idea past the Township. In their experience the wood chips are too light and will quickly wash away in our flood-prone park, so they don’t recommend this solution.
Other Ecological Concerns
Member comments: ** General cleanup and invasive plants (vines) removal. **
Our response: Definitely this is part of our mission, and normally we have volunteer days for this work. Due to the pandemic, we have held no events in 2020 other than our annual October Planting day (labor courtesy of the Township Crew and socially distanced Boy Scouts from Troop 176—a big THANK YOU to both!). We are hoping to resume member volunteer days when the pandemic permits. If regular volunteer days are not an option by Spring, we may call for individual volunteers to work solo. You will need to sign a waiver form and receive training.
Member comments: ** Enforce (?) clean-up by all pet owners (add signs?) ** At least one trash bin in the back of the park.**
In re clean-up, good suggestion. We will work on signs to be placed on the pickup bag poles.
With respect to the additional trash bin, we sympathize but are not currently recommending this. Given that we have three trash receptacles already, we feel that adding another detracts from our goal to preserve the natural atmosphere of the park as well as adding to the burden on the township maintenance crew. For now, please just carry the bag around to the receptacles nearer the park entrance. (It’s a long way for a busy park crew member to drag a heavy, stinky trash can on foot!)
Suggestion for Next Year’s Annual Meeting
Member comments: What about an open meeting or talk on dog intelligence, training, owner’s expectation – from behavioral doctor at Penn Vet?
Our response: Great idea—we alternate ecology-centered and dog-centered topics at our annual meetings, and we are due for a dog-centric talk at the next meeting, whenever that can occur.
A couple of people indicated their willingness to volunteer on the survey form.
Our response: Thanks for volunteering! We expect to be in touch with all who are willing to volunteer in Spring 2021.
Member comments: ** You’re doing a very nice job! ** You are all – terrific! ** Beautiful job on Park. Thank you! ** Love the Park! ** Even though I don’t have a dog, I’d like to support the park ** Love our Park! ** I’ve never been more grateful for our park in my life!” ** Thanks for all you do – park looks great! ** Great park, thanks for your work. ** The park looks great! Stay well—**
Our response: Thanks for all the encouraging words – the positive feedback is very energizing to our Steering Committee!!!
This year, member comments centered on trail improvement, mud issues, planting, hygiene and preservation of the grassy areas. Here are all the comments we received and our response:
Q#1: What projects do you think should be undertaken for the future?
Trail improvement: “Removing large pieces of gravel and finding more paw friendly alternatives”
Our response: We will continue to work with the Township on trail issues. With respect to the large less comfortable stones on the path at the far side of the park, the Township has found that trying to finish off paths using the fine gravel works on level paths but does not work on slopes, where gullies develop. We are exploring viable alternatives. Meanwhile, we have found that for humans, shoes with thicker soles help—and the dogs are free to go where they please!
Mud Problem/Planting Plans: “Center area of mucky water—plant?” ** “Less mud!” ** “Putting down stones or mulch to get rid of the mud.” ** “Mud control in far end of park near boardwalk” ** “Continue the good work on flooding & planting.” **
Our response: One of our top priorities is to continue ongoing planting efforts to reduce mud, replace tree cover, and enhance the wildlife habitat. We plan to continue our planting program, expanding to the area around the blue Dog Park sign as well as in the wildlife garden, riparian areas, and the boggy areas. We will seek out expert ecological advice on use of mulch and stones/gravel to reduce mud.
Hygiene/Grass Preservation: ** “Protection of the grassy areas.” ** “Small signs advising people to stay on the path except for poop pick-up. I’m thinking of a few signs along pathway such as “keep off the grass” signs you see around town. I believe many people come to the park who do not belong to our association and may or may not adhere to our rules and may or may not have off-leash permits for their dogs. I’ve heard people say they think they don’t need to clean up poop when it’s up on the hill or in the middle of the meadow. They do! But a little signage might reinforce rules to non-members and casual drop-in visitors.”
Our response: Good suggestions, which will be considered. FYI we consider the addition of signage something of a balancing act. The up side of signage is that it may influence behavior in a good direction; the down side is that signage tends to undermine one of our main missions which is to preserve the natural atmosphere of the park. Our experience with park signage to date suggests that its effectiveness is less that one would hope.
Amenities: “Dog water fountain and rinsing station” ** “trash can deeper in the park”
Our response: As always, when it comes to park amenities we try to balance member need, the cost and maintenance burden on the township, and our goal of maintaining the wild, “walk in the woods” feel of our park. At this time, our thinking is a more minimalist approach on such conveniences best fulfills our mission.
Q#2: Any other comments or thoughts you would like us to consider?
“Although I don’t have a dog, I support the park’s promotion of and use of native plants.” ** “Love the park and love the improvements, including the respite garden and memorial trunk.” ** “It’s a wonderful park!” ** “Thank you!” ** “Keep up the great work!” ** “Keep up the good work—well done on improving the park!” ** “Thanks for running the park.” ** ”Thanks for all you do!!” ** “Thank you for creating and maintaining a lovely respite for humans and hounds!” ** “We absolutely love the creek! Thank You.
Our response: Thanks for the positive feedback—it keeps us energized!
Our holiday lunch will take place on Wednesday, December 5, at 12:30 pm at the A La Maison restaurant, 53 W. Lancaster Ave, Ardmore PA.
If you’d like to attend our holiday lunch, choose one Entrée per person. Send your choice, along with your check for $35 per person payable to Friends of WMC Park, to Ellen Reese, Treasurer, 727 Stradone Rd, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004:
Entrees (choose one per person):
- Quiche du Jour (Chef’s Choice)
- Grilled Shorty – Signature Burgundy Braised Black Angus Short Rib Pieces & Gruyere Cheese Grilled on Toasted Brioche
- Traditional Croque Madame Or Croque Monsieur Open Faced Sandwich
- Cheese Omelet
- Poulet Maison – Pan Seared Boneless, Skinless Pounded Chicken Breast Served With Béchamel
- Crepe du Jour – Selection of Two (2) Traditional French Crepes (Chef’s Choice)
The lunch will also include soft drink, choice of Salade Maison or special house French fries, and a dessert.
2018 Friends of West Mill Creek Annual Member Survey
This year, member comments centered on trail improvements, safety, new planting, adding seating, and additional conveniences. Here are all the comments we received and our response:
Q#1: What projects do you think should be undertaken for the future?
Trail improvement: “We need gravel on the path from the entrance to the creek. It is always muddy” ** “Finish the stone path on the creek side of the park” ** “Pathway repair to encourage people to stay on the paths and protect the park.” ** “Replace the upper rock path after the board walk with smaller, more dog friendly rocks. I find myself avoiding the rock path, and walking on the side. My dog does also.”** “Adding new stones to low-lying muddy are near wooden walkway.”
Our response: We will continue to work with the Township on trail issues. With respect to the large less comfortable stones on the path at the far side of the park, the Township has found that trying to finish off paths using the fine gravel works on level paths but does not work on slopes, where gullies develop. We don’t have an alternative at this time. However, we have found that shoes with thicker soles help.
Planting: “Work with Township to replace fallen trees” ** “Continue planting to reduce mud and improve wildlife habitat.” ** “I love the Ellens’ recent idea of planting flowers at the base of the Mill Creek Dog Park sign—perhaps pachysandra or something that might stay lush year round.” ** “More planting of trees and shrubs, especially in the riparian area.” ** “Additional plantings for beauty and muddy area control, especially for repairing the riparian area.”**”I think a simple solution to the super-marshy lowland area in the middle of the loop is essentially making it a “bioswale”. Essentially water sucking vegetation that can be bought cheap and en masse. This will serve to dry out the area and help keep some mud off the more adventurous dogs.” ** “Consider other areas where wildflower seeds can be spread to make the park rich in cool plants and flowers.” ** “For immediate gratification, more flowering native plants would be nice. However, a wiser investment would be planting trees as recommended by the speaker from Longwood Gardens at the annual meeting.” **”Continued work to even better control the flooding problem would be great.”
Our response: One of our top priorities is to continue ongoing planting efforts to reduce mud, replace tree cover, and enhance the wildlife habitat. We will soon be doing planting under the Dog Park sign as well as in the wildlife garden, riparian areas, and the boggy areas.
Safety: “There are a few spots that dogs can get out of the park too easily. A “false” path leads up to that busy road. Can it be blocked or fencing put in at the top of the path? Also there is a rock and dirt pile high enough for a dog to climb and reach the road near the entrance.” **”More protective fencing in areas above creek to keep dogs in if they cross over creek and climb up towards the squash club, and anywhere to make it completely closed in and safe.” **”Do you suppose there is anything we can do as a group re the intersection of Old Gulph and Mill Creek Roads?”**”Can anything be done to counter the parking lot break-ins? Could donations pay for a camera system–or is that not likely to be effective?”
Our response: Regarding park fencing, the path that leads up to Mill Creek Road is a Bridlewild Trail and cannot be blocked off. As to the rock/dirt pile near the entrance, we have been discussing this with the Township for some years and there is some concern that excavating the pile will destabilize the wall. We are thinking of trying to plant a thick hedge around this area that would discourage dogs from running up there. We take dog safety seriously and in the past we added the entrance gate and extended existing park fencing for this reason. But unfortunately WMC Park cannot be completely fenced. We are planning to post signage that provides a warning to help ensure that all park users understand this. For those who cannot rely on their dog’s recall skills, there is a completely fenced dog park area at Rolling Hill Park.
** Regarding the intersection of Old Gulph and Mill Creek Roads, we contacted our Commissioner, Dan Bernheim. Dan contacted Officer Michael Sullivan, who deals with traffic issues at the L.M. Police Department, on our behalf. Officer Sullivan has told us that traffic signs and signals are subject to both Federal and State regulation. Under those regulations, neither traffic volume at the intersection nor incidence of relatable crashes qualify the intersection for an added stop sign or other traffic control device. He also told us that studies have shown that stop signs put up where people don’t expect them can actually cause more accidents than they prevent. So — added traffic signals at Old Gulph and Mill Creek is not an option for us at this point. Be cautious at the intersection!
**Regarding parking lot break-ins, we will run this idea by the township, but regretfully we think the most effective option is not to leave valuables in your car when visiting the park.
Seating: “Big stones for sitting at each stream entrance spot.”
Our response: We are all for this idea and will actively try to find additional sitting stones. (Turns out that rocks of the appropriate size are getting very difficult to find—last year we visited several quarries and found a total of two suitable stones which we placed at The Deep/North Beach.)
Additional conveniences: “Water station—fountain and dog water spout” ** “A hose to spray muddy dogs at the parking lot” ** “Addition of hose and spray nozzle at park entrance to wash off muddy pups!”
Our response: Unfortunately, running water in the park is impracticable at this time.
Hygiene: “Some persuasive educational approach to encourage dog owners to pick up their dogs’ poop–even when it’s off the path (since it goes into the watershed).
Our response: We have created a brochure on this subject that is available at the kiosk and on our website, and we issue reminders at our annual meeting and in our annual newsletter. We are very concerned about this and would welcome suggestions that would further address this issue!
Q#2: Any other comments or thoughts you would like us to consider?
“Love the stones at the North Beach.” ** “I LOVE THIS DOG & PEOPLE COMMUNITY! THANK YOU.” ** “We are appreciative of all the efforts that are being made on behalf of the Park.” ** “Thank you all very much for creating a sanctuary for dogs and their humans. We are all most appreciative.” ** “Thanks for all that you do for people and pets!” ** “Thanks for all you do!”
Our response: Thanks for the positive feedback – and we agree it’s all the dogs and all the people together as a community that makes our park so special.
2017 Friends of West Mill Creek Park Survey Results
- What projects do you think should be undertaken in the future?
Member survey comments: “Try to keep the park from having “mud pits” near boardwalk and between bench and entrance to creek.” ** “Get rid of the mud!” ** “More planting in center area to prevent “mudholes”—and would love more shrubbery to attract birds.”
Our response: Our number one priority is trying to address the mud in a way that benefits both ecological and practical concerns.
We have begun our campaign to reduce mud in an ecologically friendly way begun by planting bog-tolerant shrubs around the mud hole near the long boardwalk. If the shrubs grow and flourish, they should keep the dogs out of the water. We intend to keep on planting with the goal of providing food and cover to wildlife while keeping our dogs cleaner. Please note that we are moving ahead with this project in small increments rather than a mass planting effort all at once because these are difficult planting conditions and we expect to learn a lot by trial and error.
We hope you will understand that our park is in a floodplain, and part of its important ecological function is to absorb and filter storm water before it reaches the creek. Also, the seasonal pools of standing water are necessary to the reproduction of park amphibians, which in turn help control insect populations. Therefore, diverting all storm water directly into Mill Creek so that the park is always dry underfoot is not one of our goals; rather, we will try to strike a happy medium between ecological and practical concerns.
Member survey comments: “The stone pathways are not holding up. The wooden walkway is much better. Either extend the wooden walkway all the way round or add stone/metal/plastic frames for the gravel portion and add more gravel.” ** “Finish covering larger stones on path with small stones to protect dogs’ paws.”
Our Response: Parks & Rec tells us that extending the wooden walkway around the park is not practicable because of the high groundwater levels. Containing the gravel by adding frames is not a viable solution either. Because of the high volume of water runoff that flows over the park, the gravel moves, either burying the frame and making it useless, or leaving the frame projecting out of the ground which creates a tripping hazard. Similarly, finishing off the rocky part of the path is not an option. Parks & Rec has tried to do this kind of project in the past. They have found that the fine finishing gravel (which works pretty well on the flat parts of the path) isn’t effective on the sloping paths. It gets carved into gullies and then ultimately washes away.
Member survey comments: “A bench down near beach spot past the weed penitentiary area. A lot of people come down there to let dogs swim – maybe 2 rustic log-type benches. There is plenty of room.”
Our response: Great idea! We are currently discussing this with Parks & Rec.
Member survey comment: “Marking of parking spaces in the lot to maximize the number of cars.”
Our response: Great idea! We are currently discussing this with Parks & Rec.
Member survey comments: “I would like more money spent on enclosing the area. My dogs are ok but friends won’t come because they do not feel the property is secure.” ** “We have heard there’s a hole in stone wall that dogs can get through. Can this get checked out and repaired?”
Our response: We are very supportive of all reasonable measures to improve safety. We are currently looking at the possibility of some additional fencing and/or the planting of shrub hedges in areas of particular concern. However, it is important for everyone to understand that it not possible to enclose the park completely. Fencing cannot be installed either across the stream or in the area where the stream may flood while carrying debris. West Mill Creek Park is suitable only for those dogs whose owners can trust them off leash. A completely fenced area is available at Rolling Hill Park for dogs with less reliable recall skills.
As far as a hole in the stone wall, we aren’t aware of one, though there was an opening between the fence and stone wall that has been dealt with by the independent efforts of one of our members.
Member survey comment: “Periodic checks of creek’s toxicity.”
Our response: We spoke to the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Lower Merion Conservancy about this concern. The Lower Merion Conservancy monitors water quality in our stream monthly for indications of ecological stream health such as levels of dissolved oxygen and number of macro invertebrates living in the stream. The state department of natural resources also monitors for stream health from time to time. Tom Clark, Conservation Coordinator at the Lower Merion Conservancy, offered the opinion that the stream, while polluted from the point of view of ecological stream health, is not necessarily detrimental to dog health. He also noted that if we observe a “fish kill” (numerous fish floating on the surface) that is an indication of toxicity that definitely would be of concern for canine health. Finally, he noted that pollution levels are highest during and just after storms with lots of runoff entering the creek.
Mill Creek water is not safe for human consumption. No one we talked to is aware of any particular test for toxicity to dogs, but many of our canine dog park regulars have been drinking the water for their entire lifetimes with no apparent ill effects. If you are concerned, we suggest discussing this issue with your veterinarian.
To keep our stream (and all waterways in Lower Merion) as clean as possible, remember that chemical lawn fertilizers, pesticides, pollutants from cars, de-icing salt and yes, dog poop, are the most significant sources of stream pollution in our area. Dispose of all dog poop in the trash, and use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and de-icing salt as little as possible (none at all would be great!)
Member survey comment: “Some people do not clean up after their dogs. I’ve heard people say – “It’s not on the path” – but they need to clean up anywhere in the park including sides and middle.”
Our response: You are so right! Dog poop is a major source of stream pollution and threatens the health of people and animals that use the stream. We hope all West Mill Creekers will take a look at our “Poop FAQs” sheet that is available on our website under the “Gettin’ Along” tab and in brochure form in the park kiosk. It answers a lot of the questions people have asked us in the past on this issue so please take a look!
Member survey comment: “Irises along the edge of the stream.”
Our response: Irises would be lovely! We are discussing feasibility with the member who suggested this.
- Any other comments or thoughts you would like us to consider?
Member comments: “Love the way the Respite Garden has filled out! Love the improved walking area—reduced mud and mud puddles.” **“You are doing a wonderful job!” ** “The Park looks beautiful!” ** “Thanks for all you do!” **“Thank you and our leadership for helping make the dog park a memorable part of our lives.” ** “You are doing a great job!!” ** “Thank you for everything you do for the park and for building community in our area!” ** “ No dog but I love the dog park. You have done an awesome job!”
Our response: Positive feedback is extremely encouraging and energizing to all on the Steering Committee. We thank all those volunteers and contributors who have helped make this happen and we also thank our survey respondents for the supportive comments on our efforts—we really appreciate it!
THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED FOR RESPONDING TO OUR 2017 SURVEY!
Santa Paws once again took time from his busy schedule to visit all the good dogs at West Mill Creek on Sunday, December 18! It may have been a little overcast and a lot muddy, but the dogs enjoyed the dog biscuit and the chance to give Santa their wish lists, and the people enjoyed some hot cocoa and doughnuts to keep out the damp. Moreover, we raised $435 for the Pennsylvania S.P.C.A! Thanks to all who participated–including Giant supermarket which generously donated the doughnuts.
A couple of news items:
Tree Safety. A number of our members have expressed concern about the erosion under the large tree across the stream at the beach area. We asked the Township to take a look, and the Township Arborist and Parks Supervisor evaluated the tree. The Arborist says the tree has enough healthy root system so that it does not present an immediate danger. The township will continue to monitor the situation and will deal with the tree if it becomes hazardous.
New Kiosk. The Township kindly offered us a new kiosk paid for from special Township funds dedicated to park improvements. In addition to Township postings relevant to our Park, we will be permitted to use part of the space for Friends of West Mill Creek postings. The new kiosk also has space for brochures, off-leash permit application forms, and other useful information. Thanks as always to Lower Merion Department of Parks & Recreation!!!
Fencing Across the Creek by Old Gulph Road. No picture because it’s hard to see, but fyi the safety fence across the creek on Old Gulph Road is complete and doing its job! Thanks to the gracious cooperation of our neighbor, The Courts, we were able to install this fence to keep our dogs from running onto the Courts parking lot or the busy street. (More info about the safety fence appears in the previous What’s New post, if you missed it.)
Lots of news this summer. . .
New Safety Fence! Our biggest news item is the soon-to-be-installed s
afety fence that will run along Old Gulph Road and along the bank of the creek opposite the beach area. This black wire fence should be almost invisible to preserve the natural aesthetics of our park. It is intended to stop dogs who cross the creek in the beach area from running directly out onto Old Gulph Road. (Sorry, we cannot fence the entire park, but we believe the placement of the new fence will provide a significant safety improvement.) Thanks to your generous donations, Friends of West Mill Creek Park will pay for the 100% of the fence. Another big thank you is due to our neighbor, The Courts, the tennis club that owns the property on the other side of the creek. The Courts graciously cooperated in this project by allowing the fence to be placed on their property.
New Sign. If you’ve been to the park recently, you will have noticed our spiffy new “Welcome to West Mill Creek” sign. It has received lots of positive feedback. Thanks Lower Merion Department of Parks & Rec! You may be interested to know that the sign results from a job skills training program in our Montgomery County prison system. The prisoners designed and manufactured the sign and we think it shows that they have a lot of artistic talent and know-how. Great job guys!
New Trash Can Corrals. Many thanks, once again, to the Boy Scouts for our handsome new trash can corrals. The corrals will keep the cans from tipping over and also provide an aesthetic upgrade. They come to us courtesy of Paul Lewis of Boy Scout Troop 71 (Merion Liberty Troop). Paul worked with Parks Supervisor Dave Deangelis to design, build and install the corrals as his Eagle Scout project. Thanks Paul and Dave!
We Love Your Input. If you have an idea for a future project or event, please let us know. You can either speak to someone on the Steering Committee or send us an email via the Contact Us tab on the website. Our projects have frequently originated from member suggestions, or received a boost up the priority list based on your feedback, so please participate!
Want to Support the Friends of WMC? We hope that you are pleased with all our progress this year. If you would like to support the new safety fence and future projects, it’s not too late to make a donation and become an official 2016 Contributing Member of Friends of West Mill Creek Park. See the “Get Involved!” tab on this website for information.