There were a lot of people in addition to our three representatives. Tomas Palmgren, project manager of investment office, chaired the meeting. There were also the office manager, region planner and the project leader of this initiative, all of who have been in touch with us in the past, and finally the purchasing contract planner consultants from Vireo Oy.
First there was an introduction round where everyone told who they are and what are their links to the initiative. Next, a consultant from Vireo presented two different drafts. In the drafts, the large enclosure is about 2000 square metres and the small one about 1000 square metres. Between the two there would be a small “plaza” from where stone meal coated paths would spread out around and between the enclosures towards the near-by recreational tracks. Both enclosures would be in a meadow area.
Everyone present liked the plan. Our design workgroup wanted to know if the enclosure could be positioned so that some of the trees of the wooded hill flanking the meadow could be inside. We felt this would bring diversity to the terrain, provide a natural shelter from the sun and rains, and bind the soil better than a damp meadow. The PWD suspected, however, that there would be nature preservational interests in the wooded hill, which turned out to be the case when we looked into it later on. The city consultant hasn’t proposed new trees to be planted in the enclosure because they tend to survive poorly. At the moment, the meadow terrain is quite even, and we suggested that modifying the landscape would make it more lively and diverse.
Furthermore, we asked if the enclosures could be made a bit bigger if there is enough suitable space (Pia Bäcklund, 2000, recommends that the size of enclosures for big dogs be about 2500–3000 square metres). Unfortunately, we heard from the city representatives that a bigger enclosure would cost more and would therefore be impossible to realise. Nevertheless, we feel that a big enclosure would enable the enclosure to encompass different areas and would thus fulfil the needs of dogs better: enough open space without the constant danger of running into something, and, on the other hand, some stimulating area as well (trees, stones, and so on).
We gave a brief account of Gammel Dogs Association activities in the area (training, events, etc.) and about the results of the questionnaire we conducted. In the answers, people had expressed wishes for suitably large enclosures that fit in with the environment, bench also for those who don’t have a dog, and tables. There were express wishes not to build a circular enclosure without trees. A water tap was also on the wish list but the PWD ruled immediately that this wouldn’t be possible.
We presented our three main goals concerning the dog enclosure:
1. Broader usage
– The fence separating the two enclosures could be movable, so that it would be possible to combine the two into one big enclosure, or make the two enclosures the same size. This would allow the park to be used in a variety of ways.
– Picnic tables (on the open meadow outside the enclosures). The tables could be stylistically similar to the other sturdy roundwood tables and benches in the area.
2. Making the enclosure more safe and comfortable
– A “lobby” from which one double gate leads out and one into the enclosure. The PWD has talked about this with the Kennel Union, but for some reason, the idea has been only put into practice in Haaga and a few other places.
– If there is an “active” area by the enclosure gate, perhaps with an underground waste container or two, dogs may be drawn to it, which might cause problems. That’s why we hope that there won’t be benches by the entrance gate; it would be better for the “active” area to be located further into the enclosure.
– A shelter. For usability, comfort of the users, and future events, it would be of vital importance to have a shelter from rain and wind. It’s also something the area residents have wished for. The city’s view is that if there is to be a shelter, it will have to be chosen from a standardised, “main stream” collection.
3.Increasing stimulating experiences and strengthening identity
– Big stones, for example, with accompanying signs that teach how to use the stones for dog tricks.
– The name builds and contributes to identity.
– Outside the enclosure, a piece of art that could be a piece of the history of the area and/or recycled “trash design”.
The PWD representatives didn’t see any reason why stones and tree trunks couldn’t be placed into the enclosure. They will have to be installed to their final locations, for reasons to do with upkeep of the enclosure. The PWD representatives were somewhat hesitant about trash design. We were hoping to have a public notice board. The PWD isn’t responsible for the content on notice boards; they are open to public use. Gammel Dogs Association would be happy to maintain the notice board and supervise the contents. The city didn’t deem it impossible to have also a table and benches in the park. We also told about our idea of the dog park functioning as an arena for community art during events.
Markus told the city and the designers from Vireo that a student from Metropolia University of Applied Sciences would make a virtual model of the dog park as his diploma work. By June, the model can be viewed and comments can be left using a mobile phone when on-site. In order to get the modelling underway, Markus expressed a wish to get more information about the facilities and materials, preferably in 3D.
Finally, we distributed tasks and settled how we would proceed from here. The PWD will take care of the designing and construction of the fence, lightning, basic facilities and picnic tables in a way that is in accordance with the instructions on public furniture. If there will be leftover soil, and if the earth is solid enough, the city will look into the possibility of landscaping the edges of the enclosure area. Mikko Suominen will eventually be the one to tell more.
The Design Dog Park initiative will take care of the shelter, potential pee posts, content for signs and potential identity-boosting artwork (maintenance and durability to be considered). The PWD consultants will take into account the sizes and locations of these items. If the work of art is unsafe, it will be removed. We need to get a siting permit for the shelter from the service department of the PWD, application form can be found on-line. The layout plan for the stones and tree trunks will be done in co-operation with the PWD consultant. The PWD project manager will be kept updated about the negotiations between the consultant and the association.
The schedule of the planning/designing phase is this: The materials that will be shown to residents will be completed by the end of week 11, and the dog park draft will then go on display. The initiative is taken to the committee. Materials for that will be done at latest by the end of week 15, so that the committee could consider them on Tuesday 15.5.2012. After the committee hearing, there should be no more alterations to the plans (eg. no re-aligning the fence). Next, we will turn our general plans into a detailed design, which will be done by the end on June. The construction can’t start before the relevant town plan is completed. According to urban planner Jouni Heinänen it won’t be before September. Some money has been budgeted for use this year. This schedule doesn’t apply to the elements done by the association provided that there will be space left for them in the other plans.
We agreed that our work group will co-operate with the city consultants we will perfect the plans together. The schedule, however, became tighter than what we were given to understand in autumn. Back then the understanding was that we would reserve two months for the planning instead of the two weeks that are in the current schedule. We couldn’t prepare beforehand, because we lacked crucial information (size of the enclosure, location, general requirements). All in all, we are of course happy to see the project move forwards and to have a say in the arrangements. In addition, two local architects has contacted us, and we will arrange a meeting with them shortly.
Gammel Dogs Association / Anna Vaihia who jotted these notes down based on the meeting memo.
Translation by Pigasus Translations.