Reasons given for keeping the Dog Exercise Area (DEA) in Cummings Park

NOTE: The “reasons” are as provided by those wanting to keep the DEA. The “arguments against the reasons” are as provided by those wanting to close the DEA. Neither in any way represent the views of the Ngaio Crofton Downs Residents Association which has adopted a neutral position.

Information provided to NCDRA from WCC has been made available to those both wishing to keep or close the Cummings Park DEA to use as they see fit.

 ReasonArgument against the reason
1The Cummings Park DEA is extensively used and appreciated by people exercising dogs. Tens of people and dogs use it every day. Based on city-wide figures, there is around 1 registered dog for every 6 households in Ngaio.The dog owners who use the DEA are a very small proportion of Ngaio residents.
2Dog owners have a history of using the DEA as a social gathering place for both people and dogs, helping to build a sense of community. A number of regulars use it on a daily basis. Evidence is lacking on how many people used the area before it was a DEA, and for what purpose. There was some dog exercising there before it became a DEA.Prior to the establishment of the DEA around 1996, for 70 years it had been used by the community for a wide variety of purposes. As a DEA it deters many as a potential social gathering place.
3Chelmsford Reserve IS NOT a suitable alternative to the DEA in Cummings Park (click here to see why some people think this)Chelmsford Reserve IS a suitable alternative to the DEA in Cummings Park (click here to see why some people think this).
4The DEA is safe, and has parts sheltered from both sun and wind.This also applies for alternative uses of the area. Not all dog owners think Cummings Park is safe for their dog with some preferring a DEA elsewhere.
5The DEA is easily accessed, particularly from the adjacent carpark, which is important for elderly and less mobile dog owners.This also applies for alternative uses of the area.The carpark often full during the week.
NCDRA has received the following information from WCC: “The carpark at Cummings Park is privately owned, and Council can’t guarantee future use”.
6Older residents meet and socialise at the DEA, some on a daily basis, which is important as many elderly people appreciate and benefit from opportunities to socialise.Many other older residents would be more prepared to meet and socialise there if it wasn’t a DEA.
7The DEA is good for disabled dog owners and friends of dog owners. It is one of the few DEAs with good access for disabled people.
The state of the turf may affect access for some disabled people, but this is not solely due to dog use. Any high use will affect this.
The area would be ideal for all disabled people. The state of the turf resulting from its use as a DEA inhibits its use by less mobile people.
8Families with both children and dogs can together enjoy the facilities in Cummings Park which has both a DEA and playground.
Many children are happy to share the area with dogs and get benefit from this.
Some children are not comfortable with dogs, and are inhibited from using the area. The nearby park on Silverstream Road in Crofton Downs also has a DEA and playground.
9It’s good for children to learn how to interact with dogs, and the DEA provides an opportunity for children to meet dogs in a controlled, supervised and positive environment. Many regulars have very well-behaved dogs which fosters positive interaction. Caregivers and children not wishing to interact with dogs have perfectly good access to the playground without going through the DEA.Children visiting the area cannot avoid interaction with dogs. They and they and their caregivers should have options about where they choose to do this. DEA users should not assume everyone shares their love of dogs.
Children will still be able to interact with on-leash dogs in the Park.
10The topography of the DEA makes it perfect for dogs to safely run and play together under supervision and without the need for a fence.The same applies for children if the dogs were not there.
11The DEA is dog friendly, and most dogs there have a great time. There is little or no evidence of negative incidents for people.There have been negative incidents, in spite of some people avoiding the area because of dogs.
12The location of the DEA means there is little risk of dogs straying onto the road.This also applies for children.
13Dogs are able to rehydrate and cool off in the stream, particularly in the warmer months.The dogs disturb aquatic life.
14The DEA is well used for exercising dogs, and it is doubtful it would get this level of use for other purposes such as picnics. Some people who have known the area for a long time have said it was little used before it became a DEA.The area has great potential to be made interesting and useful for general community use. It was well used before the dogs took over.
15There are three alternative ways of entering Cummings Park for those who don’t wish to walk through the DEA, the nearby path next to the kindergarten, the path from Awarua St and the wide, level and wheelchair-friendly path from the library.
NCDRA has received the following information from WCC: “The carpark at Cummings Park is privately owned, and Council can’t guarantee future use”.
The DEA is a much-used thoroughfare to the rest of Cummings Park. For people coming by car to Cummings Park, including the less mobile and those with young children, parking directly next to and entering via the DEA provides superior access.
16The matting over the grass has improved the surface of the DEA, and make it usable as a DEA when other DEAs are mud bowls. If used for other purposes such as a playground the state of the turf would still be an issue.The matting has not prevented major further deterioration of the turf, which is now in its worst state ever.
NCDRA has received the following information from WCC: “Due to the nature of its use and current state, WCC would only fully renovate the grass at Cummings Park if it was no longer required as a DEA”.
17Cummings Park already has a playground and cannot meet everyone’s needs. The mix of facilities in the area needs to be taken into account. In particular, Ngaio school and Nairnville Park provide larger and flatter grass areas for children’s activities than could the area occupied by the DEA. The Ngata/Tarikaka corner picnic area and Cummings Park across the bridge from the DEA are lovely picnic areas. A self-closing gate on the bridge would keep off-leash dogs contained in the DEA.Ngaio school is not available during school hours and Nairnville Park is not in Ngaio. There is no other flat grassed space in Ngaio that is not a DEA and of anywhere near comparable size to the Cummings Park DEA. The Ngata/Tarikaka area does not have anything like the beautiful natural environment of Cummings Park. There is little flat space across the Cummings Park bridge, and off-leash dogs enter this area from the DEA.
18There are other areas within and outside Cummings Park for families that don’t want to be around dogs.There is no other flat grassed space in Ngaio that is not a DEA and of anywhere near comparable size to the Cummings Park DEA.
19Problems with off-leash dogs exiting the DEA could be addressed by educating users about the effect of this on other park users, and by drawing attention to the boundaries of the DEA including use of better signage.This would apply to many, but not all, who exercise dogs in Cummings Park. Some react badly when it is pointed out that dogs shouldn’t be off leash when outside the DEA.
20It is very rare for dogs to exit the DEA and be an unwanted nuisance for children. There is no publicly available history of complaints to WCC about bad behaviour by dogs. The incidence of off-leash dogs leaving the DEA is decreasing with self-policing. Adding gates and better signage would help further.Uncontrolled dogs frequently leave the DEA by crossing the bridge, and sometimes enter the playground.
21The elderly benefit from having companion animals, and this is the only easy access DEA in Ngaio. Other options are more rugged, difficult to access and lack easy parking. It is a particularly good DEA for the elderly or less mobile.This accessible and beautiful area is perfect for enabling the elderly or less mobile to enjoy the natural environment in a relatively sunny and sheltered spot.
22Off-leash exercise is essential for dogs’ physical and mental health. Socialising with other dogs is also very important. For some dog owners, particularly the less mobile, Cummings Park is the only DEA in Ngaio that is accessible. It has a unique combination of factors making it a great DEA, which is part of why it is so popular. The Odell Reserve is in Khandallah, and Silverstream Road in Crofton Downs.There are four other areas for off leash dogs in or directly adjoining Ngaio: Chelmsford Reserve, Trelissick Park, Silverstream Road and the Odell Reserve.
NCDRA has received the following information from WCC: “Chelmsford Reserve is well-suited as a DEA”.
23Ngaio has a high proportion of families with children. Children benefit from companion animals and their families are more likely to have dogs.The high proportion of families with children highlights one of the reasons that all of Cummings Park’s facilities should be free of off leash dogs.
24Closing the DEA will discourage/disengage a current group of keen and committed park users who are enjoying the outdoors, and getting benefit from exercise and social community contact as well as providing for the health of their pets. Where is the evidence that others will use the space with equal benefit?The heavy use of Troup Park in Otari for picnicking, birthday parties, BBQs etc. shows there is a high demand for relatively flat and sheltered spaces in a natural environment for such uses. The space in Cummings Park currently occupied by the DEA would be ideal for this.
25There is no other DEA within walking distance of Ngaio village that is safe.Walking distance to Ngaio village is not relevant for exercising dogs. Rather it is walking distance to the nearest suitable DEA. Higher use of other DEAs would increase their safety if this is an issue.
26Fencing the DEA would meet many of the objections to its use for off-leash dogs. NCDRA has received the following information from WCC: “Cummings Park does not meet several of the criteria used to decide whether to fully fence DEAs, therefore fully fencing this site would not be considered”.
27Many of the objections to the DEA of those wanting it closed could be met by putting a fence around one side to the bridge to enable access to the rest of Cummings Park from the carpark without passing through the DEA.
NCDRA has received the following information from WCC: “Partial fencing of Cummings Park DEA could be considered”.
This would not address the need to convert this area for wider community use. And who wants to watch a stream through a fence?