After months of renovations, the city of Berkeley celebrated the grand reopening of the Ohlone Dog Park on Friday, despite the reservations of residents in the neighboring area.
The renovations, which cost about $450,000, addressed a drainage problem in the park and made the area ADA accessible. The project also expanded the park to include a section for smaller dogs. Nearby residents, however, are concerned about the potential impact of these developments.
Scott Ferris, the city director of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront, said the project is part of the city’s ongoing Capital Improvement Program.
“We’re constantly renovating parks,” Ferris said, “We’ve got six under construction right now.”
According to Ferris, the Ohlone Dog Park renovation was funded by the city park tax and Measure WW, a local grant program.
Steven Most, a member of Friends of Ohlone Park and a resident of the surrounding neighborhood, said high traffic generated by the park has previously created parking problems and increased noise pollution for residents in the area.
“(The expansion) is something the neighbors are very much opposed to,” Most said, “(The park is) often crowded with people and dogs, there are frequently fights among dogs.”
Most added that there had been talk about fencing areas within the existing park to create a separate space for small dogs. But the city instead decided to add a new section for this function.
“That was what the professional staff recommended,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, about the expansion. “They did a study and they looked at several different options and this is what they came up with.”
According to Worthington, the city took action after hearing several complaints about the problems in the park, such as lack of maintenance.
Most also expressed concern that residents were not notified of the project by the city and that they found out about it a week before the City Council voted to fund it. Worthington added that he wishes to avoid such lack of communication in the future and is currently advocating for a notification network for the city.
While the residents have been able to work with the city to make some changes to the project, such as an adjustment of hours for the park to open later, Most would like more to be done.
“One thing that is a problem is that people do drive to this dog park,” Most said, “I would favor restriction of parking … to only the local permits to park cars.”
There is currently only one other dog park in the city, Ferris said. According to Worthington, there are currently no specific proposals to build any more dog parks in Berkeley.