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City promises dog park workshop

By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
Martinez Tribune

The next step in Martinez’s exploration of dog park options will be a workshop early in December, City Engineer Tim Tucker told Martinez City Council Wednesday night.

While Mayor Rob Schroder insisted, “We want to get it right,” and the process couldn’t be rushed, some dog park advocates reminded the Council that city staff had been looking at the matter for 12 years. Meanwhile, dog owners have to go outside the city to find a park at which their pets can play, they said.

Tucker told the Council that staff studies of area parks show that ideally, a dog park should be at least an acre, with separate areas for large and small dogs, water for both pets and their owners, chain link fencing and a double gate at entrances, posted hours and rules, regularly-mowed lawn and adequate drainage.

In addition, a well-received dog park has handicap access, nearby parking, separation from other park use and neighbors. Shade, trash receptacles, waste bags, scooper stations, tables and benches as well as canine play or agility equipment also should be part of the plans, Tucker said.

He said city employees looked at 15 local parks, and each presented its own set of problems. At one, Golden Hills, neighbors immediately petitioned against having a dog park.

Nor has the Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission elevated a possible dog park to higher status in the Master Plan. On the other hand, the Commission’s dog park subcommittee will meet at 9 a.m. Monday at City Hall to plan a workshop, Tucker said. “We may have a couple of workshops,” he said.

Dog park advocate Melissa Mohoi told the Council that the grass-roots organization that has been pressing for the park had submitted its own proposal. “We want to push this process forward,” she said. “We’re here to help you do that.”

That plan recommends the park be situated in the Martinez downtown and marina area, which advocates said would attract dog owners to that area year-round, and would encourage patronizing of Main Street area restaurants and shops.

A dog park in that area also would discourage those who would let their pets run in the East Bay Regional Park area, where dogs aren’t allowed, and would become a type of citizen patrol of areas of the waterfront that could reduce drug use, loitering, camping, vandalism and other undesirable activities.

The three places the group has recommended is the quarter-acre Cannery Sports Complex across from the Martinez Amtrak Station; up to two acres next to the Yacht Club that has dumping bins, containers and dumped trash; and the triangular park at Alhambra Avenue and Marina Vista, a place called “People’s Park” and “Needle Park,” another place the proposal said has been “overrun with homeless campers, drug dealers and users and vagrant misuse.”

Their proposal rejects the Alhambra Avenue Detention Basin, which had been proposed as a site for a dog park. Advocates said in their proposal that it would be costly to build a dog park there, the site gets submerged in rainy times and it is too near the Briones and Pleasant Hill dog parks.

Nor do advocates want the dog park in Waterfront Road Open Space, site of a former city dump and auto wrecker. It’s also a place that the Bay Conservation Development Commission has put restrictions. In addition, advocates said, city employees themselves have said a dog park couldn’t be built there, although Councilmember Lara DeLaney urged asking whether the site could be improved with more layers of soil.

Rick Marazzani said Tucker’s report covered the same ground that had been discussed before.

He also wondered why the Council focused on an email from a former advocate who said a dog park was past due, but said she didn’t want the city to “fast-track” the park’s development “at the expense of other projects.”

Instead of finding things wrong with potential sites, he urged the Council to take the approach that a dog park could be built at a site if certain things are done.

“Let’s say, ‘Yes, if—’ and build the dog park,” he said.

The group’s proposal promises that members would help municipal efforts to finance the park’s development and maintenance, and urged spending some of the city’s WW bond allocation on a park.

No action was required on Tucker’s report, and the engineer said the date of the workshop would be announced in the future.

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