In a continuous and difficult effort to find the ideal location for an off-leash dog park in the El Dorado East Regional Park, 4th District Councilmember Patrick O’ Donnell hosted a “Let’s Meet for the Mutts” community meeting in the proposed parking lot of the new El Dorado Dog Park (EDDP) Nov. 6.
“Our objective is to get educated on the proposals,” O’Donnell said at the meeting.
Opposing comments made at the meeting by residents and members of the El Dorado Nature Center (EDNC), the El Dorado Audubon Society, the Long Beach Community Gardens (Gardens) and Friends of El Dorado Dog Park (Friends) (the nonprofit organization that will fund the dog park) demonstrated the difficult process of designing the new EDDP. The Parks, Recreation and Marine Department (PRM) has been hosting meetings to address potential impacts and gather feedback since March 2011, according to the PRM staff report. A list of pros and cons for each proposed site can be seen in that report.
The PRM’s two main concerns are replacing public park space for limited park space and developing in an underdeveloped area, according to the PRM staff report.
Staff at the PRM developed three possible sites, but after much opposition, they developed and recommended a fourth possible site to the Parks and Recreation Commission (Commission) at the El Dorado Park West Community Center’s Senior Center Library Nov. 10 where the Commission made a decision on the new EDDP.
According to the PRM staff report, the newest site satisfies many concerns of those opposed.
The fourth site, the Tree Farm site, is their leading option because it does not border the Gardens, the EDNC or the Opossum Patch picnic area, and it turns an undeveloped area into a utilized city asset.
The Tree Farm option was created “within the last week,” according to Bob Livingstone, the PRM’s head of staff for the EDDP.
“The process is moving too fast,” Phil Peterson, resident and previous supervisor of Outdoor Recreation in 1967, said at the “Meet for the Mutts” meeting.
About 50 people filled out and submitted comment cards at the community meeting to voice their opinions before the Commission made its final decision. Last Thursday, the commission unanimously voted to use the Tree Farm site.
Friends of El Dorado Dog Park
“[Friends is] one of the first private companies to pay to improve a city asset,” Livingstone said. “Because the City doesn’t have the budget to do that.”
The City is requiring that Friends fund, develop and maintain the EDDP for three years, according to the PRM staff report.
Main costs for the dog park include ground cover, trees, possible irrigation lines, path development, and fencing. All of the proposed sites will charge for parking lot use.
According to the PRM staff report: “Friends listed certain goals for the potential park, including sufficient size for both a large and small dog area, sufficient room for parking, ability to consider grass rather than decomposed granite at their own expense, relative proximity to existing restroom facilities and the ability to add future amenities like drinking fountains, shade structures, trees, stationary play or exercise equipment, restrooms and dog-wash stations at their own expense.”
Members of the Garden are concerned that dog urine and feces would affect their soil.
In opposition, Dr. Greg Perault, Health Board commissioner and owner of Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital, has “no concerns about parasites from dog urine or feces contaminating the Garden if there is proper grading and drains,” according to the PRM staff report. Wild animal urine and feces are more of a concern. He recommends El Dorado Regional Park East Area 2 site for location and existing grass areas.
Linda Warren, a volunteer at the Nature Center, said that she and others at the EDNC are concerned about disturbing the bird population, which includes the endangered species Least Bell’s Vireo. She would like the EDDP to be developed at the El Dorado Regional Park East Area 2 site.
“If it bothers even one person, then [the Commission] should move [the proposed site] to another spot,” Warren said.
In opposition, Diana Lejins, founder of the Animal Rights Coalition, said that she hikes along the EDNC trail once a week and has noticed a decline in the bird population, which she attributes to the animal shelter near the EDNC. Therefore, the negative effects of dogs in the area have already taken place. Lejins would like the EDDP to be developed at the El Dorado Regional Park East Area 2 site.
According to the PRM staff report, the EDNC is also concerned that large birds could kill small dogs, that maintenance of the dog park will wane after the mandated three years of private funding, and that there will be insufficient parking especially during annual events.
Dr. Margaret Lee, shelter veterinarian of the Long Beach Animal Care Services, recommends El Dorado Regional Park Area ll as an ideal location and distance from the shelter.