Board Holds Off on Dog Park

Jim Brewer and Marty Thompson

Oakmont’s governing board has rejected two controversial initiatives, a proposal to fund studies of a proposed dog park off Stonebridge road and to allow “floaties” in all three swimming pools.

Residents lined up to speak, mostly against the dog park plan, at an Oct. 16 board meeting, also featuring a lively debate by the six board members present.

The proposal to allow an ad hoc dog park committee to spend up to $20,000 on studies ground pollution issues died on a tie vote. President Steve Spanier and Directors Tom Kendrick and Al Medeiros voted to proceed, Directors Marianne Neufeld, Heidi Klyn and Carolyn Bettencourt voted “no.”

“This is an amenity a community our size should have,” Spanier said as he and others noted that Oakmont is “built out,” with no new home sites and little open space.

The Stonebridge site was one of three originally considered. “I haven’t heard a good location yet” Bettencourt said, adding that she would “object to any location that impinges on people’s lives.”

People living on streets near the Stonebridge property rose to object on grounds including noise, parking and other congestion, possible effect on home values and contamination of the ground near Oakmont’s community garden by dog feces and urine. A resident of adjoining Silver Creek Circle said nine of its eleven homeowners were opposed.

“I live on the West end. I live with these people and making the wrong decision for them would be heavy,” Klyn said. “There’s no perfect spot unless something happens with the golf course.”

Spanier said he was “very sympathetic to people who live in the area and don’t want a dog park.” He called it a “trying issue for me too.”

Final cost for a Stonebridge Road dog park has been estimated at $283,000. “Any location in Oakmont is going to cost six figures, but this cost amounts to only $60 per person in one year’s time,” Spanier said.

Oakmont dog owners have long been able to walk pets when horses weren’t using the privately-owned polo field on White Oak Drive. After the 2013 death of owner Henry Trione, his daughter-in-law Karen said she wanted the field open to horses every day, but has allowed dog owners to use it most days between 6 and 8 a.m. Paula Lewis, chairman of the dog park committee, said she expects that will end in January.


            Objections at the meeting and in emails to board members led the board to roll back a new rule it adopted in September that would have allowed floaties, (inflatable flotation devices), in all Oakmont pools with deference to lap swimmers’ right of way.

The rule hadn’t taken effect, pending a 30-day period to allow publication of the new rule.

Lap swimmers long have used the East Rec Center pool, now closed for a six-month restoration. That left a conflict between their exercise routines and recreational pool use including those with “floaties.”

No “floaties” will be allowed in any Oakmont pool.