2020 Survey Results Are In!

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!

Mud Concerns

 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.

Park Hygiene

Member comments:  ** Enforce (?) clean-up by all pet owners (add signs?) ** At least one trash bin in the back of the park.**

Our response:

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.

Volunteering

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.

General Comments

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!!!

Pollinator Pathway Kickoff

We are proud to announce the Kickoff  program (on Zoom) for the Lower Merion/Narberth Pollinator Pathway.  This project is established in over 90 towns throughout New York and Connecticut. Lower Merion and Narberth will be the first towns to join in Pennsylvania, and  West Mill Creek Park is a founding participant!

Dog park member and naturalist Michelle Detwiler, will begin the program by explaining how each of us can add our own yard or garden to the pathway; then, Pat Sutton, a passionate conservation gardening educator and author, will present “How to Create a Pollinator Garden for Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Moths and More!” Pat will talk with us about creative ways for planting and maintaining a garden that will attract and benefit the pollinators that are so essential to life on earth.

To attend please register on the  Lower Merion Conservancy website for the  FREE Pollinator Pathways Kickoff Event.

2020 Donations

FOUR PAWS ($150 and over)

Peter & Ellen Briggs

Fred Fisher

Anne Hamilton

Bobby & Randie Harmelin

Beth & David Mark

Ellen Reese & Gary Stein

Maria Spagnuolo

Anthony Vale

THREE PAWS ($100-$149)

Janice Asher

The Cassimatis Family

Harold Feldman & Annie Steinberg

Richard Hamilton

Pam Hamilton & Steve Levy

Karen Hinckley

Alan & Julie Hochman

Michael Hoessly

Joan Logue

Craig Oliner

Kay Sude

Jill & Eric Sussman

TWO PAWS ($50-$99)

Judy & Art Axelrod

Iain & Mary Black

Kirk & Stephanie Brandon

Randy Esposito & Fotini Debonera

The Farrell Family

Linda & Bob Pitt

Jay & Marya Margolis

Helene & Kent Walker

The Wassmansdorf Family

ONE PAW (up to $49)

Katya Grischuk

Christine & David Hartzell

Hank & Barbara Holmes

June Lauer

HONORARY or IN MEMORIAM GIFTS

In honor of Jake Alpert

Friends of WMC Park Annual Meeting

Join us for a report on our accomplishments during the past year and plans for the year ahead, followed by a fascinating talk on the ecology of our Park by Master Naturalist and Friends of WMC member Michelle Detwiler.  Light refreshments and a chance to chat with your fellow dog-parkers will conclude the meeting.

Santa Paws is NOT Coming to Town

SADLY, SANTA PAWS’S ELVES HAVE CANCELED HIS APPEARANCE DUE TO RAIN AND FOG.  THIS EVENT WAS IN SUPPORT OF THE PENNSYLVANIA SPCA.  IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO THE PSPCA ANYWAY, GO TO OUR FRIENDS OF WEST MILL CREEK PARK FACEBOOK PAGE FOR THE DONATION LINK. 

P.S. PSPCA HAS OBTAINED MATCHING FUNDS FOR ALL DONATIONS THROUGH DECEMBER 31 — !

Holiday Lunch

Join us for a holiday lunch at Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, 60 Greenfield Ave, Ardmore, at 12:00 pm.  Everyone pays their own tab, so you can feel free to order whatever you want, be it a lot or a little.  It’s a great chance to get to know your fellow (human) denizens of the dog park better, and compare notes on our favorite canines!  If you did not get our E-vite email, you can RSVP through the Contact Us page on this website.  Tell us your name and how many people are coming.

Fall Planting Day

Please join us for our annual Fall planting day!  The fabulous Lower Merion Parks crew will plant trees and shrubs that we have purchased with member donations, while our volunteers weed and plant perennials.  All plantings are designed to enhance park ecology and beauty — as well as lessen the amount of mud we have to contend with.  Bring work gloves and a trowel if you have one (we do have extras if you forget).  Light refreshments will be provided.

2019 Donations

FOUR PAWS ($150 or more)
Peter and Ellen Briggs
Marsha Perelman
Maria and Ken Pollack
Ellen Reese and Gary Stein
Barbara, Dan, Katy & Sam Yody
THREE PAWS ($100 to $149)
Diana and Lawrence  Alpert 
Yair and Judy Argon
Jill Cooper
Gary and Linda Dorey-Stein
Karen and Joan Garbeil
Richard Hamilton
Karen Hinckley
Michael and Selina Hoessly
Nora and Barry Kramer
Beth and David Mark
Karl and Dori Middleman
Craig Oliner
Shelly  Phillips
Kay Sude
John Bryan III and Nancy Winkler
TWO PAWS ($50 to $99)
Judy and Art Axelrod
Mary and Iain Black
Glenn and Jennifer Cooper
Mary  Field
Robby and Judy Freeman
Susan Lichtman
Jay and Marya Margolis
Marjorie Paul
Linda Pitt
Craig and Cary Sellers
Helene Feinberg Walker
Rick and Karen Wilson
ONE PAW (up to $49)
Lars Pace and Michelle Detwiler
David and Christine Hartzell
Hank and Barbara Holmes
June Lauer
Mary Anne Sheldon
Judith Thompson

2019 Survey Results Are In!

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!

Knotweed Day 2019

Japanese Knotweed

Please join us in the battle against invasive Japanese Knotweed!  Our battle plan consists of cutting down the plant at ground level, loading it onto tarps or into a dumpster provided by the Township.  Long sleeves, long pants and work-ready shoes are a MUST.  Water and Kind bars will be provided.