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City Council OKs Owens Valley’s first dog park

March 20, 2012

City officials recently approved establishing the Bishop Dog Park on the north side of the City Park. Residents are invited to get involved and help raise much-needed funds to make the dream of a local dog park a reality. Photo by Mike Gervais

After almost two years of fundraising and planning efforts, the Bishop City Council approved last week the construction and maintenance of the Bishop Dog Park, a full-service, fenced-in, off-leash area to be located at the back of Bishop City Park.
The first of its kind for the Owens Valley, the dog park is now scheduled to open this summer and project proponents, supporters and local dog owners are celebrating what they call an asset to citizens of the community, both human and canine.
In a recent press release, Bishop Dog Park, Inc. expressed its gratitude to “so many (people) including Bishop City Council Members, Mayor Laura Smith, (City Programs Director) Waylon Cleland and (City Administrator) Keith Caldwell for their continued and active support throughout the entire process from the concept of a dog park to accepting one” at the March 12 City Council meeting.
“Community members who understood the need for and value of an off-leash park are to be thanked” as well, said Calder Reid, president of the board of Bishop Dog Park, Inc., which has been working with the City of Bishop to push the dog park from concept to reality. Reid told the Council on March 12 that Dog Park, Inc. “hopes to continue to work with the city to provide support and forward movement.”
Ongoing planning and fundraising efforts are moving Bishop Dog Park toward “Phase One (which) means there will be a fully operational dog park up and running” on schedule, said Reid. Phase One includes a perimeter fence and entry gate, piped-in water for irrigation and drinking fountains, waste pick-up dispensers and trash cans, and posted rules.
Phase Two “is all about amenities and adding improvements,” Reid explained, such as an additional entry gate, benches, more trees, shade structures and a small dog enclosure. There are also plans for the eventual addition of agility equipment, an official sounding term for “fun and games, such as tunnels and jumps for dogs which add interest to their playtime,” Reid said. “We want to be really proud (of the park) and do it right the first time.”
The cost of Phase One is $8,000, of which Bishop Dog Park, Inc. is about $2,000 shy.
The group hopes to raise the remaining total at its fundraiser at Earth Day in Bishop City Park on April 21. On-leash dogs are welcome to walk their people at the actual site of the new dog park. Bishop Dog Park, Inc. has been working collectively on a multi-activity fundraising extravaganza. One of the events will be 50/50 raffle in which the cash prize is split equally between the winning ticket-holder and the dog park. “That means if there’s $5,000 in the pot, the winner gets $2,500 and we get $2,500,” said Reid.
Other attractions include a silent auction of community-donated items, a costume parade for pets (and their people, who are welcome to dress up, too), wellness checks and grooming services. There will also be a sort of DNA multiple-choice contest. Bishop Dog Park will select one dog, whose mouth will be swabbed for DNA. Contestants will then guess the dog’s breed for a chance to win a prize. Still more canine-related activities and services are in the planning stages.
Those involved in raising funds for the dog park, as well as get the idea off the ground, have been praised for their tenacity and dedication.
“They’ve done a great job,” Caldwell said at the March 12 Council meeting. “They stuck with it for two years,” formed an official non-profit group and never stopped seeking or providing input.
According to Calder, project proponents have been driven by a desire to improve their community.
“Many communities across the country are putting in dog parks and we are stepping up to the plate, too. (We) realize the value that dog parks add to our community,” said Reid, and not only to locals. Visitors traveling with their pets that stop off at the dog park could also bring added revenue to Bishop’s economy, she continued.
Citizens of Bishop have been vocal in expressing myriad possible benefits to the community as a whole, said Reid, explaining that they wrote many letters of support. The Dog Park will be a great asset to the community, according to citizens Ross and Shelley Corner in their Feb. 17 letter of support to the City Council. The dog park would “benefit our canine citizens,” said the Corners, as well an individuals who are unable to take their dogs for long walks.
It will be “a great way to allow dogs to socialize, play and exercise, as well as offering a community gathering place” for both locals and visitors with pets. Dogs are not born knowing how to interact with one another, so a dog park can serve as a safe place for them to learn to become properly socialized to do so.
Reid also hopes the Dog Park would help with a “safety issue, as dogs are currently illegally (brought) in the park.” Even on leash, dogs are currently completely prohibited from being in Bishop City Park.
Per carefully laid plans which have met the approval of City of Bishop environmental studies, the 49,500 square-foot (1.5- acre) dog park, bordered by East Yaney, Spruce and Bruce streets, would have no significant negative impact on the environment. The study states that “no significant adverse impacts are foreseen, and no mitigation measures are required.”
The dog park will be landscaped by adding to the flora currently growing there. We “will irrigate the salt grass (that is) already there,” said Reid. According to the environmental study, hedgerows will be planted “next to the parking lot (to) create a visual barrier to the dogs and cars coming into the parking lot.” Eventually, a concrete pad will be laid at the entrance to the park. Councilman Jeff Griffiths suggested little “doggie prints (on the pavement) to direct people” into the park.
Rules will be posted at the Dog Park entrances and reminder rule signs will be placed throughout the park to ensure the safety, sanitation and, most importantly, the harmony at Bishop Dog Park so that all of its visitors have an enjoyable experience.
Bishop Dog Park will be open from dawn until dusk. The environmental study states that peak usage is anticipated in the mornings and evenings as well as throughout the day on the weekends. During summer and fall months, visitors would increase use of the dog park. The study goes on to say that there would be more traffic and vehicle use and some increase in noise, however “these disturbances would not be any different from (what) occurs now within the City Park, only that dogs would be concentrated in one, enclosed, safe area.”
“The community is the reason there will be a dog park in Bishop,” said Reid. And the community is invited to visit www.facebook.com/Bishop.Dog.Park to follow Bishop Dog Park’s progress and/or donate time, money or services. “We still need a lot of help from the community,” said Reid. Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Kellie Hallenbeck at (760) 872-4639.

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