Normal Heights has been waiting for an off-leash dog park for ten years, and it looks like this year it might get it. Sort of.
After holding a dog-park rally in February, collecting 1200 signatures from Normal Heights residents in favor of a dog park, and hounding councilman Todd Gloria for support, mid-city residents got it.
Gloria made a request for $1.2 million in his budget to begin the $7.9 million project and submitted it to mayor Kevin Faulconer, asking him to place it in his 2016 budget.
“The communities of Mid-City deserve to have the expansion of Ward Canyon Park funded,” Gloria said. The would-be dog park is located at the intersection of Normal Heights and Kensington, at the south Adams Avenue I-15 off ramp.
But the mayor has only included funds for an interim dog park in his budget, which is awaiting approval by the San Diego City Council on Tuesday, May 19. But how much money is unknown, and the location is also a mystery.
“I am pleased that the mayor will be funding an interim dog park as a temporary solution,” Gloria said. “But I will continue to fight for the first phase of the permanent expansion to be included in next year’s budget.”
“I could say we’re mad as hell,” Jim Baross, chair of the Normal Heights Community Planning Group. “We’re glad to be mentioned at all, but we’re still not on the list. We’ve been park-deficient forever.”
Ron Fererro-Pham, a Normal Heights resident, business owner, and president of the Normal Heights Community Association, said he is happy the mayor is looking for funds for an interim dog park.
“But all we have right now is the promise that they may put some money in for a temporary solution,” he said.
Normal Heights has courted other funding sources for the dog park, including PetSmart and state Assembly speaker Tony Atkins for state funds.
Ferrero-Pham says the new dog park would serve one-sixth of the city’s dogs and would be the only dog park on the I-15 corridor. Residents and their dogs in Normal Heights, Kensington, Talmadge, City Heights, and even Mission Gorge would benefit from the park.
There is still a chance full funding for the off-leash dog park will go through. Mayor Faulconer could decide to fund it in full before the council votes for approval at 10 a.m. on May 19. Calls to Faulconer’s office brought no response.
“If it’s the best we can do for now, we’ll take it,” Ferrero-Pham said.