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No funds for fido?

After design approved, city now says it has no money to build
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Just two months after the Rocklin Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved the design for an off-leash dog park, the city is now signaling it can’t pay for it. “Initial construction and start-up costs are being revisited,” City Manager Rick Horst told The Placer Herald. The park, complete with a dog wash and fenced-in areas for large and small dogs, is expected to be placed at the east end of Lone Tree Community Park off West Oaks Boulevard. At the Feb. 9 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Chairman Jack Haycock indicated funding was in place. “We would not be talking about doing a dog park in these tight economic times if we didn’t have this money that was negotiated with the Whitney Ranch Developers to use any place in the city of Rocklin,” Haycock said at the meeting. According to city documents, $44,000 of the $55,000 budgeted cost was expected to come from the Whitney Ranch Park Improvement Fund and $11,000 from the Oak Tree Mitigation Fund. The tight general fund was never considered. The budget includes $19,000 for fencing, $5,000 for Americans with Disabilities Act parking and $2,000 for irrigation water for the dogs. Horst refused to discuss the funding or the details of the project until the council votes on the plan next week. Vicki Bottini Curtis, from Rocklin Residents Unite For Fido, or RRUFF, the dog-owners community group pushing for the park, said she was blindsided by the change when she met with Horst in March. “Funding has always been the major issue, and from the beginning we have tried to find a creative, low-cost solution for this project,” Curtis said. Even so, Curtis said her meeting with Horst was positive and she hopes residents who want the dog park will come to the April 12 Rocklin City Council meeting to show support. “This will be an opportunity for those residents who have questions or concerns to be heard,” Curtis said. Horst did say if the council approves, RRUFF could carry the burden of getting the park going. “RRUFF has indicated a willingness to assume responsibility for annual maintenance and operational costs,” Horst said. “Details have not been finalized.” City documents indicated the annual maintenance is expected to be about $6,790, which includes $2,440 for landscape maintenance, $1,350 for trash removal and $2,000 for utilities. Those funds were expected to come out of the Mello-Roos CFD5 non-general fund account annually, according to city documents. Curtis said she is not worried because of the support the group has received from the community already. Students from Rocklin High School have formed a supportive club of their own and held fundraisers to raise money for RRUFF. “One in three Rocklin residents have at least one dog,” Curtis said. “The most important thing for our readers to know is the plans are moving in the right direction consistent with the economic times we are in.” Rocklin resident and dog owner Randy Bloom was excited to hear about the plans for a dog park. He has to wait until Lone Tree Park is empty to bring his two black labradors out. Bloom loves to hit tennis balls for his dogs to chase. “We usually wait until after hours to come down,” Bloom said. Bloom, a former Auburn resident, missed the dog park there and always hoped Rocklin would open one too. “It’s better that way,” Bloom said. “The dogs can meet and greet each other and it is nice to have a fenced-in area with the traffic on Lonetree Boulevard.” Bloom said he hopes to attend the April 12 Rocklin City Council meeting to show support. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12 in the council chambers, second floor, of the City Administration building at 3970 Rocklin Road.