- Jackie Reinhardt
The first Town Hall meeting to get feedback on a proposed off-leash dog park in Oakmont drew a packed crowd of dog lovers to the Berger Center April 19 and an outspoken minority representing Stonebridge and Silver Creek homeowners.
After considering 15 potential sites and getting feedback from the City of Santa Rosa, the ad hoc committee appointed by the OVA Board narrowed the choices to three, all in the open space at Stonebridge Road either across from the RV & Self Storage facility, across from the Community Gardens or above the Community Gardens.
Paula Lewis, who used to frequent the polo field no longer open to dog owners except between 7 and 8 a.m., said the criteria for selection included a location the city would approve, had the right size and topography and one that could be developed and maintained for a reasonable cost. She noted the city requires available parking on both sides of the street with sufficient room for an emergency vehicle to pass and must be compliant Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The choices did not sit well with many homeowners in the adjacent areas, including Warren Wolfe who just moved into Oakmont a few houses from the proposed sites.
“I respect the dog owners here and have been a dog owner,” Wolfe said. “I’m not the kind of person who says not in my backyard,” adding his concern was with common house flies carrying disease which dog feces might attract.
Others who spoke opposed the Stonebridge locations based on traffic and parking concerns, impact on property values, the site being too narrow, too hilly or unsafe and disrupting flood control functions of the hillside.
Commending the ad hoc committee for its research, Judy Brodsky noted the dog park is “a social thing for the dogs and people.”
Others in the audience recommended separate areas for big and little dogs while Tony Lachowicz cautioned the Committee not to forget how the park will look. The Trione family who owns the polo field has donated $25,000 for the dog park.
A second Town Hall is scheduled for 4 p.m. on May 18.