The saying, “No good deed goes unpunished” seemed fitting as opposition to the proposed new dog park on the east end of Oakdale created some barking residents concerned about location.
City Council approved volunteers, Jennifer Stasio’s and Michelle Thomasser’s, concept of designing a dog park at the drainage basin on Maag Avenue, near the Oakdale Junior High in October of last year.
But flooding concerns, parking and traffic issues, and potential student challenges prompted organizers to seek out an alternative location on the east end of town, settling on a popular drainage basin on the southeast corner of Maag Avenue and G Street.
Public Services Director Jeff Gravel explained, “This is also a drainage basin as well. The flood occurrences in this basin are much less frequent than the basin adjacent to the junior high school … this takes care of the storm drain issue and it also removes or distances the dog park activities from the junior high school operations.”
On the surface, the alternate location seemed a logical switch but Councilwoman Ericka Chiara pointed out, “My only concern in this alternate location, is that the other day I saw families playing in that park and I never see families playing in that park next to the junior high school and I’m fearful of taking away from kids having soccer or baseball practice.”
Several community members echoed a similar concern as the alternate location is frequently used by families and sports clubs alike for the wide open, rectangular shape of the basin, unlike the pie-shaped basin of the junior high adjacent location.
A 30-year resident of Kern Creek said, “We are those families that are using the basin to bring kids down there. Through the years our boys always played down there, they called it The Pit. They would go down to The Pit with boys from the neighborhood and play baseball, soccer, football, wrestle and teach other to ride bikes.”
She added, “I’m concerned because the activities that take place in the basin greatly affect our particular home. With our backyard, windows open on a Saturday morning, whatever is going on in that basin, we know about it, good or bad.”
Having enjoyed the sound of kids playing in the basin over the years, she isn’t keen on replacing the sound of children’s’ laughter with that of barking dogs.
However, City Manager Bryan Whitemyer pointed out, using data from the existing Crane Road dog park, there is very little barking as the dogs run around and enjoy the park.
Whitemyer said, “At the end of the day we can make either of these parcels work. There’s pros and cons to both. We just have to make sure that if it’s on the smaller or different shaped parcel, closer to the junior high, we just have to make sure we avoid the outlet from the storm drain and we have to recognize that there may be times that it’s under two or three feet of water.”
The reality is, as Whitemyer said, identifying a location within an existing area will be a challenge as someone, somewhere will be unhappy with any proposed change.
The conundrum is, what’s the solution?
The options were relatively simple.
Move forward with the original location near the junior high.
Move forward with the alternate location
Table the issue and continue the search for yet another location.
“I’m not opposed to anything anyone said,” Whitemyer said, who understood the concerns and potential impacts and was open to tabling the issue to allow for more time to discuss more options.
After much discussion going over the potential issues, both for and against, the council members decided to amend the location change to the original location and the motion passed, 4-1, with Councilman Curtis Haney as the lone dissenting vote.
While concerns remain, most of the council members felt the junior high adjacent location was the best option as it is irregularly shaped and gets far less use by the community than the alternate location.