The Turlock Parks, Recreation and Community Commission approved the establishment of an off-leash dog park at Centennial Park on Wednesday evening. The vote came after months of consideration for a new dog park and a public hearing to discuss Centennial Park as a proposed location.
The commission’s ad hoc committee to find a location for a future dog park considered several sites around town for the proposed park. They decided on Centennial partly because it was visible from Highway 99 and would draw out-of-town visitors.
The approved park will be located at the northwest corner of Centennial Park, about 5 feet from the sidewalk that boarders Countryside Drive. The original plans for Centennial Park include a playground, which would be relocated to the northeast corner of the park along Pinto. Ray Garcia, City of Turlock municipal services supervisor, presented the cost estimate of the proposed park. The total labor and materials on the park would cost an estimated $44,717.
“The city is not going to be providing any money for the project and it would all be donations,” Garcia said, “and a private contractor would do all of the work.”
Public reaction to the establishment of a dog park on Centennial was mixed. City staff sent notice to residents of the neighborhood around Centennial Park, which is located on Countryside Drive, to alert them to the public hearing. Less than a dozen residents attended the meeting, and only three made official statements during open public comment.
Mami Trussell, who can see Centennial Park from her home, said that she loves dogs but does not want to see a dog park at Centennial. She asked commissioners why they were raising money for a dog park rather than the other amenities that were originally planned for the park.
“Why did a playground take second place to a dog park?” Trussell asked.
Staff responded to Trusell’s question with an explanation that the current dog park, and the proposed future dog park at Centennial, will be funded only through private donations. The future play structure will come out of city funds.
“Right now we don’t have enough money for a playground,” Garcia said.
Thad Moren and Michele Gordon both spoke in favor of the dog park. Moren said he was disappointed that the city never built a sound wall around the area. He said that he doesn’t allow his children to play too close to Countryside Drive, and the dog park fence could act as a buffer between the play area and the street.
“People that come to a dog park could be good sets of eyes watching our neighborhood… I understand the ‘not in my backyard,’ but there are some positives too,” Moren said.
Officer Glena Jackson of Turlock Animal Control said that she would like to see as many off-leash dog parks as possible in Turlock. By law, all dogs have to be on a leash unless they are on private property or in a fenced dog park area. More dog parks would mean more legal avenues for Turlock pets to get their exercise. Jackson said that visitors to the current dog park in Sunnyview Park on Berkeley Avenue are good about following the rules.
“There has also been very limited activity (at the current dog park) as far as Animal Control is involved,” Jackson said.
Commissioners voted to approve the establishment of the dog park at Centennial Park. The issue will be brought before the Turlock City Council for final approval. Commission Chair Barney Gordon said that as of Wednesday, no donors have come forward to offer money for the establishment of a second dog park in Turlock.
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