Social and Political Commentary

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Doggy saga at Mount Hood Park

... push and pull issues at Mt. Hood

from Len Dalton

As New York City has Central Park, the City of Melrose has the magnificent park
called Mount Hood.  Both are treasures in the surrounding area. Since 1935 I
have been something of a presence at Mt. Hood. In 1936, as a 6 year old, I found
a nice Bulova watch while wandering from the Long Pond area through the woods up
to the clubhouse. Naturally, I turned it in. At the age of 6 I couldn't read the
enscription on the back but the guy in the clubhouse could and he then  knew the
identity of the owner. He told me to come back the next day as the owner would
leave me a reward. Sure enough, the owner left me a one dollar bill! That is a
1936 one dollar bill! My first buck! No, I don't have it any more.

Melrosians since the time of the development of that park have used and enjoyed
it either for self improvement via exercise or to attain the same thing via
walking their doggies. Realizing the beauty of the place, most clean up after
the dogs; a few don't. When I say 'few' I mean very few. In the last 20 years
they have been asked to pick up waste and also to keep the dogs on a leash. Some
do and some do not. In the context of  the size of the Mt. Hood Park area and
the proliferation of golfers since the 'Big Dig' upgrade, the number of doggie
walkers is miniscule.

After the 12th fairway was completed, on a snowy day, I was the one who
discovered vandal damage to that fairway. A recalcitrant contractor had done
donuts there with a 4 wheel drive pick-up. I reported it to Kenny Foss, a Park
Committee member. Police took castings of the tire marks and eventually the
damage was fixed. The beef with the contractor was somehow resolved.  

Vandals as well as golfers have always been a factor at Mt. Hood. Many times I
have found the remains of computer montiors or TV monitors on the tower steps
after the vandals dropped them from the top of the tower. Glass would be found
in inches deep! As a result, the Park now has the tower gate locked with a
telephone number showing for legitimate fans to call in order to open that gate.
Vandals often leave the remains of beer parties strewn about, both at
the tower and  along some of the fairways. On one occasion I found 65 large
plastic beer cups along with an empty beer keg on the 13th. I organized the mess
and Mike, the manager, had it all picked up. This, like the doggy walker
situation, is an ongoing problem there. Little, if anything, has been done to
address vandalism. Trash is picked up when found. This problem by far outweighs
the problem, if you want to call it that, of doggy walkers.

Now, the few doggy walkers are being punished by what appears to be a political
ax being ground. Mt. Hood is a Melrose wide PARK, and not merely a golf course.
Taxpayers as well as voters have the right to enjoy that park. While vandalism
does not get addressed, the minority in the form of doggy walkers is now
'banned' there. The problem is in flux as it appears at this date that leashed
dogs are Ok but not unleashed ones. So, we shall see whether or not Melrose
folks can continue to enjoy their 'Park' while night time vandalism is not dealt
with.  Personally, I have always been outraged that vandals go there at night,
make an awful mess, and get away unpunished while a few dog walkers are
threatened with citations.

No, it is not a golf course; it IS a Park meant for the public to restore itself
in its beauty.

Len Dalton

September 7, 2012

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