City Council approves renovations to Ohlone Dog Park amid neighbors’ concerns

Leslie Yang/Staff

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On Feb. 23, City Council approved renovations to Ohlone Dog Park amid concerns from the residents situated near the dog park that they were left out of the process of approving the park.

The renovations at Ohlone Park include creating separate small and large dog park areas, improving drainage, and enhancing the property. The total cost of the renovations is estimated to be $328,000. The council voted 8-0 with one abstention to approve the renovations.

Stephen Most, a resident who lives adjacent to the dog park and a member of Friends of Ohlone Park — a group created to address issues facing the neighborhood — said many residents living near the park were not aware that the city intended to make changes to the park until February.

“We were shocked, I can tell you that,” Most said.

Most said Friends of Ohlone Park first found out about the renovations when it contacted Joe Goglio, the president of Ohlone Dog Park Association, a nonprofit dedicated to the establishment and maintenance of dog parks in the area, to invite him to its meetings.

Some residents circulated a petition around the neighborhood asking to postpone the vote.

According to Most, past problems presented by the dog park include off-hours use, barking, parking and drainage, which the neighbors felt could be exacerbated through an expansion of the park.
Most also expressed the concern that the enclosed small dog area would be an ideal hideaway for drug users in the park.

Goglio said most of the problems for the residents are because of a high turnover of park users who might not be aware of park rules.

“(It is a) continuous process of educating people,” Goglio said. “Those people who are willing to respect the park will appreciate the concerns of the neighbors.”

During the Feb. 23 City Council meeting, Councilmember Linda Maio added supplementary materials onto the legislation to address the residents’ worries, including the addition of signs, timed lock gates and rules discouraging parking in driveways.

In addition, Maio, Berkeley Parks, Recreation and Waterfront department director Scott Ferris, Friends of Ohlone Park and Goglio met to discuss the renovations to the park and its effect on its neighbors.

Maio could not be reached for comment.

Goglio added that he thinks the city could have done a better job of notifying the residents around the park of the plans.

“(We should) look for a better way to see people who are affected have early and adequate opportunity to get aboard,” Goglio said. “(It’s important) to keep people informed as part of the process rather than just publishing notices that may or may not be noted.”

Contact Alok Narahari at [email protected].