Santa Paws is Coming to Town

Santa Paws has a special place in his heart for the dogs of West Mill Creek Park — so once again this he will visit for a photo op with your dog.  There will be a biscuit for each good dog and hot cocoa and treats for their humans.  This is a fundraiser for the Pennsylvania SPCA–all donations  go to this excellent organization to help the less fortunate dogs in our community.

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 Contributors

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
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
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
Gary and Linda Dorey Stein
Robby and Judy Freeman
David and Christine Hartzell
June Lauer
Mary Ann 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.

Spring Planting Day

Join us to help plant  perennials at the Park!  Bring work gloves and a trowel if you have one, and come and go as you please.  Water and Kind Bars will be provided.

Wood Chip Work Day

Calling all volunteers to help us renew the wood chip path in the Wildlife Garden at the park entrance.  All we need to do is fill wheelbarrows from the wood chip pile near the lower gate and spread them along the path to make a nice, springy, water-absorbing trail.  No gardening knowledge required this time!  Come and go as you please — every barrow-full helps!

Sixth Annual Meeting

We’ll have a quick recap of projects completed in 2018, plans for 2019, and thank yous to our volunteers–then on to our speaker, Marsha Perelman, who give a presentation entitiled  “Beyond Shelters.”   Marsha is a nationally known animal welfare advocate and will talk to us about current legal and other creative efforts to  improve the lives of dogs and other companion animals.  Refreshments and a chance to chat with your fellow dog park friends will follow.  Please join us!

2018 Volunteers

In 2018 we held a total of 7 official work days – three dedicated to planting and maintenance, and 4 to cutting down our ever-persistent crop of invasive Japanese Knotweed.  Many, many thanks to our 14 wonderful volunteers, Judy Argon, Karen Barsotti, Ellen Briggs, Helen Chen, Art Gold, Karen Hinckley, Gary Kingaffer, June Lauer, Orsi Lazar, Linda Pitt, Ellen Reese, Mary Ann Sheldon, Christel Urmenhazi, and Helene Feinberg Walker who donated a total of 84 hours to our ongoing efforts to keep our park green and growing!  We should also note that, in addition to our official work days, ad hoc volunteers donated many additional but uncounted hours to general upkeep and maintenance (mostly weeding and invasive removal).   An additional thank you to you unsung heroes!  And last but not least, Matt Berk, Rich Cutshall, and Gary Stein have consistently been there to help with skilled projects such as gate latch repairs and affixing signage