City Commission Rejects 2nd Substantial Donation for New Dog Park

David Fransen|

The Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Community Programs Commission rejected a $35,000 donation to construct a new Turlock dog park Wednesday night, as the donation was tied to a controversial renaming of a landmark park.

The donation from local pet store Pet Extreme would have allowed Turlock to move forward with long-held plans to construct a new dog park at Centennial Park, located on Countryside Drive near Monte Vista Crossings. But the donation was contingent on renaming the park “Swanson Park,” in honor of the family who owns Pet Extreme.

The renaming failed on a 3-2 vote.

“The concern of the three dissenting members was really just based on the fact that Centennial Park represents the 100-year anniversary of the City of Turlock,” Turlock Parks, Recreation & Facilities Department Superintendent Erik Schulze said.

Commissioners Barney Gordon and Mike Dowd supported the renaming, while Bella Daniels, Jeremy Rocha, and Brent Bohlender were opposed. One resident also voiced opposition to the renaming.

Centennial Park was named in November 2007 in recognition of the city's centennial celebration. The park contains 100 trees, referencing the centennial, and a plaque with the names of those who donated trees.

The Parks, Recreation and Community Programs Commission agreed to site a new dog park at Centennial Park on July 12, 2011. Progress has been non-existent since then, as funding was not available.

The Centennial Park dog park would resemble a scaled-down version of Turlock's current Sunnyview Park dog park, with simple fenced-in runs, benches, and a doggie drinking fountain. Building the dog park is projected to cost $44,684; the city was to shoulder the difference in costs.

The Swansons are among Turlock's most successful families, with a lineage tracing back generations, extensive land holdings, and numerous successful businesses which employ over 100 people.

Commissioners were appreciative of what the Swansons have done for Turlock, but considered the “Centennial Park” moniker too important to change.

“They definitely appreciated the offer, but they couldn't get past changing the name of a landmark park,” Schulze said.

A compromise voiced by commissioners may see the park renamed with a combination of the two titles, perhaps as the “Swanson Centennial Park.”

This isn't the first time a donation to build a dog park at Centennial Park been put on hold due to naming concerns.

Rob Santos, veterinarian and owner of Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital, offered to donate as much as $20,000 to build a Centennial Park dog park in August 2011. He also offered to donate an estimated $8,000 worth of amenities to the park, such as dog tunnels and seesaws, and road signage directing travelers to the park.

At that time, Santos requested some sort of sponsorship rights, which would have seen Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital be featured on a sign though the park's name would have gone unchanged. The commission balked at the time, and never took Santos up on the offer.

“Commissioners Steven Nascimento and Barney Gordon were supposed to contact me after fundraising tiers were released to the public so that sign recognition opportunities would be fairly announced,” Santos said. “They rejected my donation; we contacted them several times but they never contacted me again. We wanted to make this a destination for the community and visitors of Turlock.”

Santos went as far as emailing City staff to propose raising all the funds under a non-profit. City staff never responded with any decision.

The Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities Department will now contact the Swanson family, Schulze said, to determine how to proceed. The matter could be advanced to the Turlock City Council for approval despite the commission vote, or the Swansons could agree to a name change.

No mention of the Santos donation was mentioned by the Commission or City staff.

A decision on how to move forward with the project is expected in the next week, Schulze said.

Related Articles:
$15,000+ Turlock Dog Park Donation on Hold, Project Logistics Need to be Defined by City

Second Dog Park Location Approved, Fundraising Needed for $44,000 Price Tag

Parks and Recreation Commission Approves Second Turlock Dog Park Location

Comments 14

  1. bigger fish says:

    this looks like a case of big fish or bigger fish. look at how the writer describes the swansons. tell the people about the santos family. the question is still why did the commissioners reject both donations and the idea to raise all the money. does someone not want another dog park???

  2. Sonia says:

    All these funds in turlock and their turning them down ..we need donations in atwater to remodel a baseball park for the jr giants kids baseball team and we don’t even have 1 donation from any local business’s ..we will rename our fields to whatever u would like if you donate the funds .. Sad how no one thinks of the kids instead of the politics around the issues ..

  3. Pet owner says:

    I would like to hear from the city of Turlock why Dr. Santos’ donation was not reconsidered. I was waiting for this park and I never heard that someone wanted to raise all the money. Me and many others will donate.

    Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t Dr. Santos pay for and lead planning for the centennial statue, park and parade? He’s my vet and remember seeing many promotional pamphlets and stories on his work. How much did Mr. Swanson pay or do for the 100 year centennial park?

    I smell favoritism and politics getting in the way of citizens and our pets!

  4. Tax Payer says:

    The government wants reasons to waste tax money and get the glory. John Lazar Dog Park sounds better to the mayor’s employees than Swansons Dog Park. Aren’t there parks named after all the other mayors of Turlock and they didn’t pay anything probably.

  5. Dog says:

    We just want a dog park! Get ‘er done!:D

  6. Money says:

    How much are the commissioners who don’t think these donations aren’t enough giving out of their own pocket?

  7. Politics says:

    Whoever said politics is the reason for this is correct. This comes down to City Councilmember Steven Nascimento securing a rich Republican donor for his future political campaign in exchange for getting a park named for that donor – Matt Swanson – and on the other side Turlock Mayor John Lazar asked his Democrat buddy Dr. Rob Santos to help pay for the park.

    Matt Swanson is the guy who paid $100,000 to bring Sarah Palin to Turlock. Nothing should be named after Swanson since he did that.

  8. sandie says:

    It’s exciting that Turlock will be having a classy dog park. I have seen dog parks around and many of them will have 1) dog slides /play equipments 2) benches for humans 3) lots of grassy grass 4) a sign with the names of donators 5) a nice strong black fence-not the cyclone school type fence to fit the image of the neighborhood 6) no human restroom since it was play time with dogs only. 7) parking lot and 8) There should be a separation of big dog area and small dog area . The Centennial Dog Park will represent the city and it will attract the visitors. Let’s be creative and make it look fabulous. Take your time commissioners. I know you will plan the best for this town. ss

  9. t says:

    Everything at the city revolves around politics, hirings, fireings, appointments approvals and so called layoffs…… so what else is new?

  10. Carrie dudik says:

    I think Swanson Centennial Park is a great idea! Turlock is my hometown. You can’t take the centennial out of the name because that’s what the park is all about! And so many people were a part of creating that park in the first place.

  11. Tell More says:

    Please tell us why the city would not let someone raise all the money for the dog like Dr. Santos emailed about. The reporter needs to dig more and get answers. The park should not be renamed for anyone because it is a commemorative of the city’s centennial year.

  12. J Santos says:

    Politics is right on, newbie Nascimento is definitely bought and paid for just like Bublak. Matt Swanson thinks his family is important than the 100 year celebration of the city of Turlock? Talk about arrogance. I do disagreed on one thing, Dr. Santos isn’t affiliated with any political party, he only cares about himself. Ask some of his former female co-workers what they think.

  13. J Santos says:

    Poliitcs is correct. Newbie Nascimento was bought and sold the Republican agenda by his few wealthy donors, just like puppet Bublak. I do disagree about Santos, he is not affiliated with a political party but only cares about making himself and posturing for higher political office. Ask some of his former female employees about “how great thou Santos thinks he is”. They have some interesting stories.

  14. Momma J says:

    Did J Santos stutter?

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