The Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Community (PRC) Commission discussed at their Wednesday night meeting the idea about building a second dog park and where it could be located.
City of Turlock Municipal Services Director Dan Madden presented four possible locations for a new dog park in Turlock: Summerfaire Park, Walnut + Duquesne Storm Basin, Hawkeye + Quincy Storm Basin, and the north east Turlock storm basin called the “Green Belt.”
The PRC Commission held public forums for each one of these locations during the 2007 process of picking a location for the first dog park, now located at Sunnyview Park.
How times have changed? Looking back in the past there was much opposition to a proposed dog park for reasons of increased noise, traffic, outsiders coming into a specific neighborhood park, and dogs barking while neighbors of each potential location were concerned about taking up grass areas their kids currently play on.
At the March 10, 2010 PRC Meeting, commissioners suggested that previous opposition has now even turned into potential support as residents around the most contested location in the past (Hawkeye + Quincy Storm Basin) have now been said to be wanting a dog park in their neighborhood storm basin.
The PRC discussed, with City Staff, narrowing down possible locations to send out notices of public forums to get neighborhood feedback on each location.
The PRC Commissioners favored the Hawkeye + Quincy Storm Basin and the north east Turlock “Green Belt” area near Taylor Road + east of N. Berkeley Avenue area.
David (DJ) Fransen requested since funding will be an issue again, and this time there might not be $15,000 in donations to the Animal Shelter that the project might use, that Summerfaire be included in the potential dog park locations list since last time a $10,000 donor was committed to especially funding the Summerfaire site.
Fransen also asked for something on the westside of the city be considered, such as Centennial Park located at Tuolumne and Countryside.
Director Madden said that he couldn’t speak to that donor and that many rumored donation commitments fell through the last time around with the dog park. Madden stated that there were not that many city owned options in the west.
PRC Commissioner Desiree Silva had serious concerns with Summerfaire for reasons of lack of parking, water drainage, and the large, costly area to fence. Silva also was concerned with the lack of parking at Centennial Park.
Commission Chair Brent Bohlender summarized that he’s sold on the Taylor Road “Green Belt” area east of N. Berkeley Avenue because it would have the least amount of opposition as it’s in an undeveloped neighborhood while he also felt it was fair to the neighborhood of Hawkeye + Quincy to include their storm basin in the list of sites to be considered.
PRC Commissioner Barney Gordon said that during the public forums citizens that may desire a dog park in other locations not listed will have the opportunity to, and might, come forward to make their requests.
The PRC agreed and unanimously voted that the City of Turlock send out notices of public forums to discuss each location to residents within 1000 feet of the potential dog park sites of Hawkeye + Quincy and the Taylor Road “Green Belt” area east of N. Berkeley Avenue.
Commissioners in attendance were Chair Brent Bohlender, Desiree Silva, Barney Gordon, and Angela Raeburn. Commissioners Richard Salinas and Bella Daniel were absent. There is one vacancy due to the recent resignation of Gabi Kinsella who was a big supporter and leader of the first dog park.
Dog Park Discussion History and Summary
The City of Turlock is expecting to make a dog park location recommendation to the Turlock City Council at a September 11, 2007 meeting. This is a general summary of what has taken place. The City of Turlock’s presentation will most likely have an official summary made from community forums, meetings and discussion notes.
Approximately 10 years ago, somebody had a vision of an area for people to take their dogs to exercise and maybe interact with other dogs while being off leash. The City of Turlock designated field 5 out at Pedretti Sports Complex as an area for people to take their dogs and let them off leash. The lady that brought the interest forward moved out of state and then the interest fell off.
Pedretti’s field 5 has still been a designated off leash area this whole time. Not too many people know about this for one reason or another. The current hours for taking dogs out to the off leash area is from 8am – 5pm.
Problems with the current off leash area for dogs are that the baseball/softball field is heavily used, when not in use is being maintained, and when the Pedretti Sports Complex is not open it is locked up. This makes it very unrealistic for this area to be used even though it is a designated off leash area.
Discussion about an off leash dog park was brought to city staff through the Community Services Commission. A storm basin located at N. Walnut + Duquesne was recommended by city staff and was opposed by a property owner in the neighborhood at a public meeting. There was only city staff and this one person at the meeting. With this person’s intent on getting other neighbors to publicly oppose this location, city staff decided to present multiple alternative locations to the Community Services Commission along with what city staff would recommend to the City Council when it would go before them for approval. This would also give the community another chance to give input on this project.
On May 9, 2007, Public Facilities Maintenance Manager Rick Harden gave a power point presentation including discussions on these 7 locations: Pedretti Field 5, Summerfaire Park, Walnut + Duquesne Storm Basin, Hawkeye + Quincy Storm Basin, Golden State + HWY 99 Storm Basin, Sunnyview Park, and an undeveloped north east Turlock storm basin called the “Green Belt”. Each location’s size, opportunities, potential costs, pros and cons were pointed out and discussed by city staff, Community Services Commissioners and a few people from the public.
After the presentation city staff was asked what their recommendation would be to Council and it was said that Sunnyview Park most likely would be at this time. This location recommendation wasn’t really acceptable to some other city staff members and Commissioners present. Funding would be easier to get if another location like Summerfaire were to be recommended and approved. Recreation Manager Judy Loretelli told the Community Services Commission that they had options like sending it to the Planning Commission if they didn’t like the recommendation.
At this point there had only been about 15 different people, besides city staff, that had gone to this or any other previous public meetings for an off leash dog area.
A decision was made to narrow down the suggested locations to four and then have public forums for each location. People in the areas would be notified by mail and the media. The four locations to be discussed were suggested by the Community Services Commission and they were: Sunnyview Park, Summerfaire Park, Hawkeye + Quincy Storm Basin, and the north east “Green Belt”.
Brief Summary of Locations.
July 16, 2007 – Sunnyview Park:
Marlena Cardinal, Friends for Sophia’s Dog Park Inc., became involved as a supporter and reference as she is involved with trying to get off leash dog parks all over Stanislaus County. Brad Bates, former Turlock Mayor, was there as he supports a dog park in general and introduced as the appointed fundraising front man. There were a few people from the neighborhood that were in favor of a dog park in their neighborhood. One person stated she was worried that people won’t come to the S. Berkeley location though.
The major pro points were that there aren’t any current activities a dog park would interrupt, it is already fenced on three sides, it would be a good sized area, and there is a 24 stall parking lot and restrooms. The parking is the most important element because none of the other sites have this and would greatly impact any area if cars had to park in front of houses. The restrooms are another benefit none of the other sites have. The major con was the concern that the location was unsafe even though the dog park would only be used during the daylight hours.
This location is still expected to be city staff’s recommendation to the Turlock City Council.
July 18, 2007 – Summerfaire Park:
This area was rumored to be some Commissioners’ most desired location along with major possible donors and fundraisers. The same few people at the previous meeting were there at this one and were in favor of this location too. Two people still wanted it at Sunnyview Park.
The Park would be able to dedicate the same amount of space as Sunnyview Park. It has some landscaping already in place. The cons are that there is no existing fencing, no restrooms and no parking except for across the park and in front of people’s houses. The residents that live across the street have complained so much about fair traffic that the street is now closed during the fair. There have also been documented complaints about how people that use the park now come and ask to use restrooms in their houses. The park is also heavily used with other activities such as soccer, baseball and football practices.
July 23, 2007 – Hawkeye/Quincy Storm Basin:
This was the most ridiculous forum of them all. This location wasn’t on the list from city staff until a Commissioner requested it be and thought it’d be a great location.
About 40 people showed up from the neighborhood and were blunt about supporting a dog park but just not in their neighborhood. The people there said that the dog park would bring down property value, bring in undesired people, cause a lot of items to be thrown over their backyard fences, and make all their dogs bark.
There were statements about how if the dog park tries to go in this location that they would have great opposition from Peacock Estates, a prominent area. Others said that their area is a high voting area and suggested that Council better not approve this location. These people were so adamantly against this location that they went away saying that they would write letters in support of Sunnyview or any other location.
July 25, 2007 – N/E Master Plan Storm Basin ("Green Belt"):
This area doesn’t have many houses built around it yet so not many people showed up. A few veterinary related workers showed up to support a dog park.
One of the pros would be if it were chosen to be the off leash dog park, then there wouldn’t be much opposition and people buying houses would know what they’re moving next to. There’s enough space for it and could be built while it is being developed. The cons include that there is very little parking including in front of houses. It is also the farthest, out of the way area that may require a lot of vehicle traffic. Of course there are no restrooms like the rest, except for Sunnyview Park.
Overall Summary of the whole dog park issue.
It seems to be that this would be a greatly used amenity that most cities will eventually provide for their citizens. Despite how many people have dogs, there wasn’t a lot of community involvement either way. There will never be a perfect location for something like this where people don’t know much about it. People stereotype a lot. Complaining is more prevalent than constructive criticism and contributing ideas.