July 6, 2010 > Dog Park
Submitted By Michele Matta
Not without controversy
On Wednesday, June 30, about 200 people attended the Grand Opening of a new Dog Park in Fremont's Central Park. Mayor Bob Wasserman described it as, "The crown jewel of Fremont." Parks and Recreation Director Annabell Holland, kicked off the ceremony by introducing guest speakers and thanking BART for its "fantastic collaboration with the city," relocating the Dog Park and instituting the new amenities.
Mayor Bob Wasserman addressed the crowd with a sense of humor asking the dogs in attendance to "pay attention." He also thanked BART for its cooperation with the City of Fremont facilitating the extension of BART through Fremont to San Jose. BART Board of Directors member, Thomas Blalock acknowledged "our four-legged playmates" and officially handed over the keys to the park. The Mayor and Mr. Blalock proceeded to cut the ribbon and the gates to the dog park opened for business.
Located adjacent to the Fremont Animal Shelter with access off Stevenson Boulevard, the Dog Park has two areas: 1.2 acres with artificial turf and lighting for large dogs over 14 inches in height at the shoulders, and a smaller .02 acre area with natural grass for dogs 14 inches and under at the shoulders. Both areas have double gate entries designed for the convenience of dog owners and the security of their pets. Other amenities include benches, shade structures and drinking fountains for both owners and dogs. An extensive list of rules for the safety of dogs, owners and visitors is posted on the gates.
The replacement of all Central Park facilities impacted by BART construction, including the new Dog Park, were originally approved by the city council in September 2007 as part of the Amendment to the Central Park Master Site Development Plan.
In spite of the general excitement and optimism about the new facilities, some complaints have surfaced. Some dog owners have been unhappy with the planning process saying they were "not notified about the Fremont city council meetings regarding the new Dog Park" and that citizens were "not allowed to give their input."
Mayor Wasserman disputed that claim, insisting that there were "many meetings and lots of opportunities for citizen input" since the inception of the project. His statement was corroborated by council members Anu Natarajan and Bill Harrison who were present at the opening. They also noted that there were no citizen objections during council meetings and planning commission meetings. Molly McArthur, a BART community relations official stated that during the six-month construction period for the new Dog Park, "countdown notices" for city council meetings and planning commission meetings were posted several times on the old dog park. In addition, Ms. McArthur noted that there is a "public outreach trailer" in the park staffed by BART public outreach staff, open during normal business hours throughout the duration of the extension project.
Another complaint was voice concerning sanitation and injuries resulting from use of artificial turf. City officials counter this by stating that non-toxic synthetic grass requires no lawn mowing or fertilizing, thereby saving on water and maintenance. Also, an antibacterial backing inhibits bacteria and odor. Some have argued that these advantages are overshadowed by the cost of installation and repairs, potential high temperature of the rubber during hot weather and potential harmful chemicals leading to infection. But Kelly King, Parks and Recreation Superintendant, insisted that "artificial turf has progressed amazingly in the past ten years and is safe for dogs."
For more information on the new dog park, visit www.fremont.org or contact Annabell Holland, Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Fremont, at (510) 494-4300.