Volunteers Needed for Fall Planting Day

Thanks to your generous donations, we have over 300 plants to get in the ground this year! As usual, Township crews will be helping us with the heavy tree planting starting early in the morning, but we need your help for the perennials and small shrubs. There will be a brief training session at 11:00 but we’ll fill you in if you miss it.
Please bring work gloves and a trowel (we will have extras in hand if you forget). Light refreshments, happy camaraderie, and the satisfaction of improving our park for all, are free!

Knotweed Day #3

If we don’t finish the job in the first two Knotweed Days, we’ll finish up on this date.  Knotweed is a noxious invasive plant that vigorously self-plants itself in moist areas, degrades the ecosystem, and ultimately promotes soil erosion on stream banks.  At this annual event, we cut the plants to the ground and dispose of the stems, giving the “good guy” plants a better chance to take over the territory.  Wear long pants and long sleeves, and bring gloves!  Come and go as you please.  Water and Kind bars will be available.

Knotweed Day #2

Loading up the tarp with knotweed, June 2016

Knotweed is a noxious invasive plant that vigorously self-plants itself in moist areas, degrades the ecosystem, and ultimately promotes soil erosion on stream banks.  At this annual event, we cut the plants to the ground and dispose of the stems, giving the “good guy” plants a better chance to take over the territory.  Wear long pants and long sleeves, and bring gloves!  Come and go as you please.  Water and Kind bars will be available,

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).

 

2021 Donations

Four Paws ($150 or more)

Peter & Ellen Briggs

Pam Hamilton

Ingrid Johansen

David & Beth Marks

Craig Oliner & Alyson Owen

Mana & Ken Pollack

Ellen Reese & Gary Stein

Three Paws ($100-$149)

Judy & Yair Argon

Harold Feldman & Annie Steinberg

Richard Hamilton

Karen Hinckley

Nora & Barry Kramer

Joan Logue

Dori & Karl Middleman

Eileen Rosenau

Jen & James Sperry

Two Paws (($50-$99)

John & Barbara Barr

Iain & Mary Black

Julie & Alan Hochman

Michael & Selina Hoessly

Carolyn W. Scott

Amy & Adam Steel

Jill & Eric Sussman

Nancy Winkler & John Bryan

One Paw (up to $49)

Janet Bauman

Katya Grischuk

June Lauer

2021 Survey Results

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!

Overcrowding–Safety

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?”

Our response: 

  • 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!

Overcrowding–Parking

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? “**

Our response: 

  • 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. 

Park Hygiene

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.” 

Our response: 

  • 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!)

Ecological/Aesthetic

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.

Mud

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?**

Our response:

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.

Volunteering

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.

General Comments

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!

Summer Work Day

Calling all volunteers for our first work day in a long while!  We will be doing some weeding in the garden area and also cutting down invasive Japanese Knotweed that grows near the stream and elsewhere in the park. If you can bring work gloves and your favorite weeding tool.  (We have extras of both if you forget.)  Water, Kind Bars, and a great chance to help our park thrive will be provided.

Special WMC Dog Park Tour of Historic West Laurel Hill Cemetery

Please join your fellow denizens of West Mill Creek Dog Park  for a FREE pet-friendly walking tour of West Laurel Hill Cemetery. The tour will provide a wonderful overview of West Laurel Hill’s long and colorful history, focusing on stories of its residents and their pets as well as its architectural artistry and its stunning trees and horticulture. The group will move at the pace of the slowest dog in the pack, stopping briefly for water breaks and photo stops along the way.  Many thanks to the Friends of Laurel Hill & West Laurel Hill Cemeteries, which is sponsoring this event for our group!

Please register by Monday, July 11 at Register Here

  • Your walking tour will begin and end at the Conservatory at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 225 Belmont Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, 19004
  • The tour will begin promptly at 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Please arrive 15 minutes before your tour time to check in
  • All leashed dogs are welcome (Dog-less people are welcome to join the tour, too)
  • This event is rain or shine
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Bring a water bottle
  • Directions: click this link for Information on directions and parking
  • Click this link for information on covid protocols for this event.
  • Bathrooms will only be opened if they are needed for use.

Thank you and enjoy your tour!