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Recreation board approves dog park

Lone Tree Park chosen as host for the pooch playground
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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The Rocklin Recreation Commission unanimously voted last Wednesday to recommend the city council approve a plan for a new dog park. Recreation Commissioner Paul Ruhkala said it is time for an off-leash location for dog owners in the city. “Rocklin is becoming a big enough community that we need to start thinking about taking care of our dogs,” Ruhkala said. Since November of 2009, volunteers from Rocklin Residents Unite for Fido, or RRUFF, have been trying to get the park plan moving. The group President Victoria Bottini Curtis said it makes sense for most Rocklin residents. “One in three households in Rocklin have at least one dog,” Curtis said. “We need it so people stay in Rocklin, spend their dollars in Rocklin and have an appropriate place for their dogs to socialize and play.” The commission selected Lone Tree Community Park on West Oaks and Lonetree boulevards in West Rocklin after evaluating three other parks: Johnson-Springview Community Park, Margaret Azevedo Community Park and Boulder Ridge Neighborhood Park. Recreation Commission Chairman Jack Haycock said the cash needed to start the park has already been raised. “Cost is everything right now,” Haycock said. “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. That’s a real advantage.” The $55,000 budget for the park will not come out of the general fund, but rather set-aside Whitney Ranch Developer fees. The budget includes $19,000 for fencing, $5,000 for Americans with Disabilities Act parking and $2,000 for irrigation water for the dogs. 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 would come out of the Mello-Roos CFD5 non-general fund account annually. The original plan called for one space for both large and small dogs to meet off leash, but the commission recommended adding $4,000 more to the budget for the extra fencing for the division of the park. They also wanted a people path inside the perimeter and a dog wash for owners to remove mud from their canines. “You don’t want to put a muddy dog back in your car,” Recreation Commissioner Nancy Hartwell said. “Having that spiket there would really be helpful.” Curtis said such improvements are on RRUFF’s radar for fund-raising plans.   “We have people ready to donate dog swimming pools. We’re going to get sponsorships for benches, shade trees and toys,” Curtis said. Rocklin High School junior Rae McAtee said members of her Bark dog club at the school have already raised money for the cause and plan to do more. “We plan on doing a dog wash and selling homemade dog biscuits,” McAtee said. The fenced area for the dog park would be located on a one-acre spot located east of the ball fields. Homeowner and dog owner Brian Burns, who lives on Camellia Circle, within earshot of the proposed site, said he’s supportive of the plan. “It probably wouldn’t bug me,” Burns said. “I might take my dogs over there.” Rocklin resident and dog owner Sydni Aguirre, who lives across town on 5th Street, said she’s disappointed the commission didn’t choose a more centrally located park like Johnson-Springview Park. “I love the dog park. We were all hoping it would be here. Most likely we would not go across town,” Aguirre said. The commission was hopeful area business owners would benefit from the new destination. The proposal was encouraging to small business owner Sherry Brodie, who operates Pups’n Cups, a mobile dog park vending van providing dog treats and supplies to dog park patrons. “The new Rocklin dog park is very exciting to me both as a vendor and as a dog lover,” Brodie said. “It will provide me with an opportunity to expand my business.” Recreation Commissioner John Carter and Rocklin Animal Control Officer Riley Merae were concerned the park would expose the city to possibly litigation. “People get injured when there are dog fights because they try to break them up,” Merae said. The city is planning signs to be posted with guidelines for use of the park. Rocklin resident and dog owner Heather Schaefer said she supports the park as long as the city does not restrict dogs from the other parks in the city like Roseville has done. “We avoid Roseville because of that,” Schaefer said. RRUFF officials contend the city has vowed to keep all Rocklin parks dog friendly. The Rocklin City Council still has to make the final decision on the park plans, which is expected at its 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday, Feb. 22.