- Jim Golway
Oakmont dog owners got a jolt of good news at the Jan.16 OVA board meeting when Paula Lewis told the board that the son of the late Henry Trione is willing to provide $25,000 for the construction of an Oakmont dog park, if a suitable location is found.
Local Realtor and resident, Lewis has been a faithful guardian of the polo field, making sure dogs and dog owners behave themselves. But the carefree days of unleashed dogs playing with joyous abandon came to an end Jan.13 after the Triones announced that after 8:00 a.m. no one except equestrians can use their field– including dogs.
Deprived of the use of the polo field, which for decades Oakmont residents considered their unofficial dog park, Lewis and a few others decided to seek official recognition of a club whose goal was to create an Oakmont dog park.
But their effort ran into a bit of a snag. During the questioning of Lewis, board president Gloria Young pointed out that official Oakmont clubs must have a ‘social purpose.’ Studying the feasibility of a dog park and finding a suitable location is something an ad hoc committee would need to do.
So, it was decided that Lewis would re-file her club application while Young would consider placing the appointment of a dog park ad hoc committee on the board’s next agenda.
This could be the beginning of another pickleball debacle. “We’re determined not to turn this into a big fight like what led to the pickleball trouble,” said Gordon Freedman, who hopes to be appointed to the ad hoc committee. “We want to include everyone in the decision- making process, not just dog owners.”
Freedman has been active on social media, encouraging residents to join the effort to establish a community dog park, arguing that there could be over 500 dogs in Oakmont and they need a place to play and exercise just like residents. He has even floated the idea that dog owners could help pay for park maintenance through some type of user fee.
Several have responded to his postings. Many were in favor of a park for our fur-babies but most just offered suggestions of what a dog park should be; such as: “Needs to be an acre in size…” “Must have a separate section for small dogs…” “Dogs shouldn’t be fenced in…” “The sound of barking is annoying…” “Dog parks can be odoriferous…” “The location must be away from homes.”
So far, proponents of a community dog park have been vague on possible sites but one thing is clear. If a dog park ad hoc committee finds an acceptable location it will be by learning a lesson from the past – the only way to achieve community consensus is through compromise – something a previous ad hoc committee failed to do.