There is a Better Alternative Location for a dog park at Lake Merritt

An alternative location for a dog run is being proposed and it’s one we all can agree on (including Pat Kernighan, Oakland Parks and Rec, Oakland Public Works, and even, to an extent, Emily Rosenberg of ODOG - see the East Bay Express article). The alternative location is at the former Police Horse Stables located within Lakeside Park at Lake Merritt. The site is located on Bellevue Avenue, west of the Lakeside Park Garden Center. The site is accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists from the service road behind Children’s Fairyland as well as from the parking lot on Bellevue Avenue. Until 2006, the Police Horse Stables were used by the Oakland Police Department. Tucked behind Children’s Fairyland, the site often goes unnoticed by visitors to Lake Merritt and has been unused for the past five years.

We like this alternative because we believe that compared to the Astro Park location, it's better all round:
  • Better for dogs: comparable size, more interesting space, more and healthier trees, no heavy traffic, more peaceful
  • Better for the dog owners who originally sought the facility: nearer to their apartments in Adams Point, more pleasant location to be with the dogs
  • Better for existing park users: no conflict or displacement of existing recreational activities
  • Better for everyone’s safety: further from small children, not abutted by major highway intersections and busy multi-lane roads, surrounded by higher fences
We believe that Astro Park/ Eastshore Park is the wrong place for a dog park. We are not alone in our belief as a recent community meeting showed that out of 150 attendees, 70%  found this location to be problematic regardless of whether they were for or against the dog park.  Why does this location make so many neighbors uncomfortable?

1.  Astro Park/ Eastshore Park is currently the ONLY flat, open, public playfield in the entire Lake Merritt district.  There is a baseball backstop, pickup soccer and volleyball games and several local schools use the field for their sports and recreation programs.  The dog park proposal would encumber 50% of the open field with a fenced in area, covered with wood chips.  This effectively eliminates the field for public recreation. Astro Park is also home to a tot lot and the Lakeview Branch of the Oakland Library, existing uses that are in direct conflict with a dog park.

2.  Astro Park/Eastshore Park is highly visible from the major roadways of Grand Ave., Macarthur Blvd, and Lakeshore Avenue.  Currently the park is an open green space.  The plan calls for 700 feet of chain linked fencing covered with vines.  There is no maintenance budget and the proposal suggests that maintenance will be performed by volunteers.  This is not
acceptable and experience shows that dog park maintenance in high traffic areas should always be budgeted and professional. With the current budget for this dog park slashed by 89% from the original design, this park is a set up for failure and a future blight on this location.

3.  In Oakland, we already have 5 parks designated for dogs.  When the idea for this dog park was introduced, Oakland had no dog parks.  As a city, we have
learned that dog parks should only be placed in underutilized areas.  This location is not underutilized.  In fact, it is in the midst of a bustling retail and commercial district, bordered by heavily trafficked streets and Lake Merritt.

4.  Parking in this central area is already difficult.  The proposed dog park at Astro/Eastshore park would increase the need for parking spaces. Furthermore, the plan calls for elimination of several parking spots on Lakeshore to accommodate maintenance vehicle access.

The alternative location provides all the benefits of a new dog park without burdening the neighborhood with any of these issues. The old horse stable site sits on an oak-studded knoll, high above the Lake with great views towards downtown and appears to be a better environment for both dogs and people. It's an alternative that we believe makes sense.

(Here is a summary of our position regarding the dog park proposed at Astro Park/Eastshore Park)

Here's a conceptual plan of how the Stables Dog Park could be set up (click or examine the PDF below to see it larger):

Sign up to the Save Astro Park mailing list so we can keep you informed as to what is happening with these proposals.

Here are some photos of the stables area today:

View from over today's fence. Horse exercise area (disused) and storage containers. June 2011

On the left picture, the fence on the left is at the side/back of Fairyland, the orange fence straight ahead is the stables area. This is from the level access road.
On the right picture, the fence on the left is at the very back of Fairyland (you can just see their storage container there), looking down the sloped path towards the bandstand. The area to the right is the stables area.

Two views of the "extension area" where the fence could be moved out to accommodate a larger space for dogs. Shows ample shade from healthy, mature trees as well as plenty of room to run. A delightful setting! The orange fence on the left image shows the outer boundary of today's stables area fence.

Sign up to the Save Astro Park mailing list so we can keep you informed as to what is happening with these proposals.

We've also posted below the full document being presented to PRAC on July 13th. Please do download this and read it in full.

Grace Webber,
Jul 5, 2011, 5:07 PM
Grace Webber,
Jun 27, 2011, 5:09 AM
Grace Webber,
Jun 27, 2011, 5:10 AM