Dog park planned for Calistoga

2013-01-16T10:04:00Z 2013-01-30T18:37:23Z Dog park planned for CalistogaSEAN SCULLY Napa Valley Register
January 16, 2013 10:04 am  • 

CALISTOGA — The Calistoga City Council approved a long-planned dog park Tuesday night, to be built on a disused piece of city land near Logvy Park.

The park will be built on public property but construction and maintenance will be handled privately. Organizer Scott Atkinson said he has commitments from private donors for about $15,000 of the $20,000 necessary and expects to raise the rest shortly.

Atkinson said he will soon know more about when construction might start and how long it will take.

The park will consist of two fenced areas, one for large dogs and another for small ones, on a vacant parcel at the corner of North Oak and Washington streets, next to the pool and community garden.

That land is supposed to be used for a new teen center and art center eventually, but that idea stalled as the economy turned downward. Atkinson has agreed to build the park in such a way that it can be removed on short notice if the city ever gets the money to build the new center.

Councilmembers enthusiastically supported the dog park idea, but were cooler to an additional suggestion to install four bocce courts on the remainder of the property. Atkinson had agreed to help maintain those courts as well.

City Manager Richard Spitler suggested adding the courts. Vice Mayor Michael Dunsford, however, said he was worried about adding too many facilities on the property, which might make it harder for the city to follow through on plans for the new teen and art center.

The long-range plan for Logvy Park already calls for bocce courts, but located at the far corner of the property toward the Napa River. Dunsford and other councilmembers wondered about the wisdom of changing that plan. They did not, however, rule it out as a possibility.

City officials have long called for a dog park in town to help keep pets off playgrounds and soccer fields and to give the animals a place to run safely while off leash. Previous efforts to find a spot, however, have failed.

Atkinson proposed the new plan in 2011, but was delayed by the slow process of establishing a nonprofit organization to raise funds and run the park. He eventually teamed up with veterinarian Steve Franquelin, who was already establishing his own nonprofit to help care for stray or injured animals.

Atkinson plans to have the park users establish a committee to run the park under rules negotiated with the city, including limiting the hours of use, monitoring noise levels, and enforcing behavior codes for the dogs and their owners.

At the meeting Tuesday, councilmembers also asked Atkinson to clarify rules limiting unsupervised children in the park and prohibiting alcohol without a special event permit, changes he said he would accept.

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