PLEASANTON -- This city of more than 70,000 has just one dog park for its 26,800 canine residents. Based on that ratio, Pleasanton needs at least two more dog parks in the near future, according to a parks master plan.
Plans for one new dog park -- at the north end of the Marilyn Murphy Kane Trail, just south of Bernal Avenue and west of Interstate 680 -- are in their formative stage.
"With a dog park or two, we could actually be DogTown USA," said Melanie Sadek, Valley Humane Society's executive director.
Pleasanton was in the running for that title, bestowed by Dog Fancy magazine, but fell short due to lack of dog parks, Sadek said.
The city's only off-leash dog park is in Muirwood Community Park, on the west side of town.
Sadek was one of a handful of people who spoke in favor of a new dog park at Thursday's Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.
"This is the first step to try to find a site," assistant city manager Steven Bocian explained. "The next step is to get the piece of land and design so that it's appropriate."
The earliest date to start developing the new park would be July 2015, explained Susan Andrade-Wax, Pleasanton's community services director.
The city considered three sites for a dog park, all within the boundaries of the Bernal Community Park, just south of Bernal Avenue and straddling I-680. A site just south of the Chevron gas station was deemed too close to residential and commercial properties, Bocian said. Another site also along the Kane trail was dismissed as being too close to a busy roadway.
The proposed Kane Trail site is a long, narrow 1.5-acre stretch of land just west of the trail parking lot and extending both north and south of the lot. Current plans call for the southern end of the dog park to abut a trail spur that has a park bench that overlooks a creek. But that plan concerns Commissioner Brad Hottle.
"The overlook area is a nice, quiet place for reflection. You can sit there and see some wildlife," including deer and turkeys, Hottle said. "You wouldn't have that opportunity anymore to interact with wildlife."
Commissioners agreed it would be a good idea to move the southern boundary away from the trail spur and add extra land at the north end of the property to make up for that missing space. They also discussed planting bushes to shield the part of the park that would run alongside the main trail.
David Edwards, who lives near the proposed site, is worried about the overall impact a dog park would have on wildlife in the area.
"If I had a dog, the (animal) I'd be most worried about is the ground squirrels that heavily populate that area," Edwards noted, also expressing concern for the deer and wild birds that live there.
The linear shape of the park would make it easy to split into two separate areas -- one for large dogs and one for small dogs, Bocian noted. There's a drinking fountain in the area, meaning it would be easy to run needed waterlines to a dog park.
The City Council must now discuss the proposed park.