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Dog park workshop back on schedule

A group of dogs enjoying Paso Nogal Dog Park in Pleasant Hill. (LISA WHITTAKER / Courtesy)
A group of dogs enjoying Paso Nogal Dog Park in Pleasant Hill. (LISA WHITTAKER / Courtesy)

By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – A citizens-driven effort to open a dog park in Martinez is back on schedule after a second public workshop initially appeared to need rescheduling, both City Engineer Tim Tucker and one of the park advocates, Melissa Mohoi, said.

A growing group of dog owners and their supporters have been lobbying the Martinez City Council since September and using social media links to revive the drive to build a local dog park, where dogs can play safely off-leash.

The matter currently is in the hands of the Parks, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission (PRMCC), which appointed a subcommittee to examine the issue more closely, and which organized a public workshop Dec. 9 at City Hall.

That session, which attracted between 30 and 40 participants, including members of the PRMCC and the City Council, began with a review of where the city started considering the dog park a dozen years ago before such a project was put on the back burner.

After those attending heard about the amenities many dog parks have, they began looking at potential sites that could be chosen for the first Martinez dog park, said Mahoi, who has been instrumental in organizing park supporters and who has been active on the group’s Facebook page.

“We vetted a lot of ideas,” she said.

Among them are the amenities pet owners would like to see at the dog park –  lights, restrooms and shade, preferably from trees.

One proposed spot is a former automobile dismantling yard on Marina Vista Avenue, which Tucker said is no longer toxic.  That place is one Mohoi said she could endorse, so long as the city could assure pet owners the site is safe. But it’s not her first choice.

Mohoi said she still is hoping the city will decide to put the park somewhere downtown, possibly near the marina in a space large enough that local pet-oriented businesses could visit and cater to dog owners.

She said she prefers a marina area site near the basin walking trail, and liked Tucker’s suggestion of adding a fence to separate dogs from nearby railroad tracks and create a less leash-restrictive walking area for people and their dogs. “It would make it a secure location,” she said.

Another suggestion she said she liked was asking someone to donate land to be used as a dog park.  “The American Kennel Club recommends one to two acres minimum,” she said, although she has seen dog parks of different sizes that have become successful.

She said she was pleased that the workshop had some lively discussions without becoming a debate. “Everyone came together,” she said.

Mohoi said citizen participation is the only way to keep the project on course and to prevent it from languishing as it has in the past. That includes having pet owners becoming active participants in the park’s upkeep, she said.

Such a concept can work, Mohoi said. An example is Point Isabel Dog Owners (PIDO), active in pulling weeds and cleaning the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline dog park, established in Richmond in an agreement with East Bay Regional Park District as a mixed-use open space where, according to the organization, “responsible owners may bring their dogs to run off-leash.”

Those park supporters formed a nonprofit organization, and if necessary, Martinez dog park supporters might do the same, Mohoi said.

“I want to let the city know we’re here to stay, and to get it (the park) built.”

While park advocates are determined to keep the proposal moving forward, they nearly hit a small glitch when Tucker said the date of the next workshop, Jan. 13, 2016, appeared to have a conflict with another City Hall meeting.

That’s been cleared up, Tucker said, and the second workshop will take place at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13 in Council Chambers at Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta St.

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