I like dogs and good beer, emphasis on like. Not breathlessly devoted, or some insane, hyper-fan as one is expected to be these days. Like.
What then, is the problem?
The core of what irked me about the place was the fact that it’s part of a trend privatizing things that began as a public place. I like dog parks without beer. A place not to be seen, but to pay attention to your dog and clean up after him. A place run by and owned by the local community where you are accountable to your neighbor.
I’ve just driven thousands of miles across the U.S. and purposely used public lands to camp, visited public parks, swam in public pools, and did it all over crumbling highways.
While America is still a beautiful place with a rich diversity of experiences, it is also falling apart.
I visited state parks run with such a barebones staff there was no one to collect my fee, despite my repeated attempts. Public pools with kids using diving boards that were coming apart. Highways with miles of potholes causing untold damage to cars and trucks. Abandoned hiking trails that caused me to get lost (and panic). Facilities without hot water, broken sinks, unstaffed visitor centers. At Bandelier, a national park, they had a note requesting guides be returned. The budget had been cut and this was all they could do.
‘Deferred maintenance’ is the term used in commercial real estate. The cost of making those repairs is usually factored into the value of a property. What is the value of our country if we keep refusing to invest in its maintenance?
Enter private business. Those who can afford to pay for a 'better’ experience, one without obvious decay, spend their money elsewhere. They use public spaces less and then aren’t willing to support and pay for the repairs these places require.
I believe in public places. They are a tool for community, a place to encounter one another on an even footing. It’s good for our collective psyches to have land that belongs to and serves the people. A place commerce isn’t welcome to shape and dictate.
I consoled myself as I stepped gingerly over the droppings to leave the bar; someone may have figured out how to make money from a dog park, but they haven’t improved the experience.
Even with good beer 🍻