Barbara’s been waiting for a fenced-off dog park in Coronado for 20-plus years.
“There is nowhere in the village other than the beach to let a pet run or exercise off-leash,” she said, “it would be a lovely asset to the community and my 11-year-old chocolate Lab.”
On August 21, Barbara and other dog owners rallied at the city council meeting at city hall on Strand Way, in hopes that their pooches would have a closer place than Dog Beach.
At about 4:30 p.m., Coronado residents lined up to address the possible use of .28 acres of the school district’s property on Sixth Street next to North Island — as an off-leash dog park — in exchange for an annual cost of $60,000 from the city of Coronado. The grassy area sits between the Coronado Unified School District office building and the transitional-kindergarten, kindergarten and Crown Preschool.
“As a resident and a taxpayer, I see no reason why those of us who have dogs should not have the same rights as the other people who have kids,” Carrie said.
Carrie lives by the proposed area and is mom to a nine-year-old Dachshund named Lilly and Max, a 13-year-old Terrier-mix who was recently put down.
“Now before you go attacking me on my beliefs that children, real life human children, are more important than dogs, you need to know that I have, both kids and dogs. I’m a devoted mother to my kids that are now grown, and a devoted caretaker to my dog, whom I consider part of the family.”
At the city council meeting, there were over a dozen residents that went up to the podium. The anti-dog-park attendees had a stronger showing than the dog-park-advocates.
Blair King, city manager of Coronado, showed a diagram of the proposed dog-park on the overhead projector screen. He explained that the park was planned to be surrounded by a double chain link fence and accessed from the east side by the district office building. The park would be split into a large and small dog area.
Lucy owns a Terrier like Carrie. She lives “very close” to the proposed dog-park area but admits that it might not be the ideal location for the dogs. She offered the city council an alternative: “I am very envious of the golfers that get to enjoy that beautiful park for the exclusion of everyone else and there’s probably as many dog owners as golfers in Coronado.”
Councilmember Carrie Downey agreed: “I would like to task the recreation commision with reviewing all the options to include discussions of the feasibility of possible port land in that mix, whether it's at a portion of the golf course or Tidelands Park.”
Councilmember Michael Donovan stood his ground on the chosen school district site. “We’ve hashed this out already twice in the last four to five years, I believe that if this [location] can’t work, there’s no other place in Coronado where we can put a fenced-in dog park.
“The lion's share of the concerns that I have heard could easily be addressed by restricting the hours of use of the dog park. We would never have children and dogs at the same time.”
Councilmember Whitney Benzian said “I flat out don’t think it’s a good spot (at the school district) … I’m willing to assign myself the responsibility to meet with port officials and try one last time.”
“The opposition have such concerns as [the attraction of] pedophiles in the area, children getting bitten or attacked by dogs, dog feces everywhere and so on,” Pamela said, “it seems far-fetched; no pun intended.”
Pamela, a Coronado resident, owns a large eight-year-old poodle named Pearl and a 12-year-old toy poodle named Duchess. She says that Cays’ dog park is about six miles from the village and doesn’t have a fence; Dog Beach on the north side of Coronado's beach doesn't have a fence either and is “impossible to reach for elderly/disabled dogs and/or owners …. even if those aren’t obstacles, washing the sand out of a 60-plus-pound dog is.
“It’s been an issue here for years. Every time a location is suggested it’s shut down by either NIMBY residents, or, in the case of the school property, what I believe are irrational fears and gross overstatements of the possible problems. I will concede: it’s not the best of the previous sites suggested, but I’m hoping that a successful trial would pave the way for a larger park in a less controversial area.”
Mayor Richard Bailey, who lead the agenda meeting, was reported by the Coronado Times in an article (published on Sunday) to have said: “This agreement has the potential to be a big WIN-WIN for the school district and the Coronado community."
At the end of the discussion, the city council did not come to a decision.