The Parks, Recreation, and Community (PRC) Commission approved the establishment of an Off Leash Dog Park at Centennial Park with a 4-0 vote, while Commissioner Mike Dowd abstained, at their June 8th meeting held at Centennial Park.
The discussion of a second dog park in Turlock is not a new issue, as the PRC Commission discussed possible locations for a second dog park back in March 2010.
At this time, there were four locations to be considered, and Centennial Park was not one of them. By April two east side locations were considered and majorly opposed by neighbors.
David Fransen suggested the Commission to consider a location on the west side of the city, such as Centennial Park, located at the Countryside Drive and Tuolumne Road intersection.
At the next PRC Meeting, held in April 2010, both Fransen and former Turlock Mayor Brad Bates suggested Centennial Park as a good location for a dog park, but were again not on the list of locations to be considered.
Fransen re-suggested Centennial Park because of its space availability and capability to handle traffic.
Bates said that due to the park’s location next to the freeway, it has the ability to be a revenue enhancer where people could stop to get gas, food, and let their dogs out for a run.
PRC Commissioner Barney Gordon stated that additional dog parks would be great, that the city should continue looking at other locations, and that they should look into the other locations that were brought up. Gordon also requested any other suggestions for future dog park locations.
Since the first public hearings over a year ago, Gordon had become Chair of the PRC Commission and appointed Commissioners Richard Salinas and Steven Nascimento to an ad hoc committee. The Ad Hoc Dog Park Committee was created and included Parks and Recreation Manager Allison Van Guilder, Parks Supervisor Ray Garcia, and PRC Commissioners Richard Salinas and Steven Nascimento.
Together, they went to various locations around the city to find a suitable site for the park that would be cost effective.
“This (Centennial Park) is one of the ones that we thought would be the ideal place to go,” said Supervisor Garcia.
This dog park would also have more trees for the convenience of dog owners, something the current dog park, Sunnyview Park, lacks.
Commission Chair Barney Gordon said that the addition of a dog park at this location would act as a buffer between the housing and traffic noise, as the park borders Contryside Drive.
The Commission was in favor of locating Turlock’s second dog park in the northwest corner of Centennial Park at Wednesday night’s meeting; however, their approval of the park was not without some public opposition.
Notices were sent out to neighbors surrounding the proposed dog park location. Not many neighbors came out to speak but some neighbors residing near the park were not happy about a possible dog park being across their street.
A neighbor questioned why a dog park was considered over a playground for children, which Centennial Park currently does not have.
PRC Commissioner Desiree Silva agreed that Turlock needs more activities for children.
“Unfortunately, people in the community are not coming to our meetings and not asking for playgrounds – they are asking us for dog parks,” commented Silva. “This is a really great location for a proposed dog park. That does not mean it’s going to happen tomorrow.”
The estimated price tag for the dog park is about $44,000, and if all costs are not raised the park will simply not be built.
Turlock Municipal Services Supervisor Ray Garcia explained that the City is not putting in a dog park. The dog park is not using tax dollars, and all expenses for the park will be either fundraised or donated, while a private contractor will install everything.
Officer Glena Jackson of City of Turlock Animal Services said that dogs will not be permitted to the dog park unless they are fully vaccinated and neutered.
“Dog parks are cleaner than most parks around Turlock,” Officer Jackson commented.
She feels Turlock needs more dog parks, and warned of the $165 fine for dogs spotted off their leash in areas other than private property or designated dog parks.
Officer Jackson also believes that this is a good location as it is a big draw for people to come when traveling to stop and shop, eat, and let their dogs out for a run.
She added that the visitor impact will be minimal because they are here only for a limited amount of time.
“This is an excellent location,” said Commission Chair Gordon closing the discussion.
The dog park issue and the PRC Commission’s recommendation will proceed to Turlock City Council to be considered at a later date.