Local pooches will have to forego their leash-free romps at the West Basin Dog Park twice a year due to the need for maintenance of the grounds.
The park, which opened in August 2010, is showing severe wear to the fenced in turf areas where the dogs are allowed to play, roam, and lightheartedly chase each other without the requirement of being tethered to their owner.
In a report to the Oakdale City council on Tuesday, Feb. 22, Public Works Director Joe Leach stated that because of the park’s popularity since its opening, the grass area has been damaged by the heavy use. He proposed that the park be closed for a period of approximately four weeks in the spring — most likely March — and four weeks in the summer — August — in order to perform aeration, fertilization, and allow for turf growth.
Councilman Michael Brennan, who stated he frequently uses the dog park with his Aussie-Queensland mix named Ruby, said he also noticed large sections of wear in the portion of the park designated for the larger breeds.
Brennan was very critical of the landscaping maintenance of the facility, noting that with the grass being cut so short, it was contributing to the wear and destruction on the lawn.
“I’m not happy with its condition,” Brennan said, acknowledging the service was contracted and he wasn’t blaming the public works department.
“The landscaping service doesn’t care or know how to maintain it properly,” Brennan suggested with a note of annoyance. “I’m trying to be civil.”
His comment brought a few chuckles for the audience.
Public Works Maintenance Utilities Manager Jon Sterling stated that when the park was planned, turf failures were expected, but were anticipated due to dog feces and urine chemical reactions. In the case of West Basin Park, the damage appears to be from the extreme use. He agreed that a higher grass cut might diminish the damage to the grass.
“Let’s monitor it a little better,” Brennan said.
“Do we have to educate the people we’re landscaping with on how to do landscaping?” asked Councilwoman Katherine Morgan.
According to Director Leach the company that is contracted to do Basin Park’s landscaping is Grover Landscaping of Modesto.
Leach stated that four other regional cities with dog parks were surveyed and noted that three of the four have regularly scheduled closures for the purpose of upkeep for fertilization and reseeding.
On a recent sunny day, Chris Comly of Oakdale was at the park playing a game of fetch with his 3-year-old Pitbull named Max.
Comly mentioned that he’s noticed the grass getting trampled since the park was opened but said it was in better condition than a park in Modesto, which he described as “basically dirt.” He also said he’d like to see the trees grow to provide some shade.
Comly understood the need to revitalize the grass of the play area. He also noticed the low cut of the grass on the dog runs compared to the height of the grass outside the fenced in areas.
“If they’re doing it to maintain the park, it’s a good idea,” he said when told of the upcoming closure. “We’ll just have to go to other Oakdale parks during that time.”
The city plans to plans to do two-week advance notifications of the closings with posted signs at the park, publicizing it on the city website, and announcements in The Leader.