CORRECTION (Published 11/28/2013)

A story about the city of Oakland scrapping plans for a dog play area at Snow Park near Lake Merritt incorrectly reported the name of the park in which the play area was slated. It was planned for Astro Park.

OAKLAND -- Another year, another bit of green space around Lake Merritt that won't be going to the dogs.

The city has given up its plan to build a dog play area at Snow Park, leaving dog park advocates back to square one in its decade-long quest for space near the lake.

The demise of the Snow Park plan comes nearly a year after the City Council deadlocked on a hotly-contested proposal to build a dog park at the other end of the lake -- at Astro Park near Interstate 580.

Rather than break the tie vote, Mayor Jean Quan huddled with city officials to scour the lake for an alternative site. They came up with Snow Park, which sits between the lake and downtown Oakland.

The mayor and Parks and Recreation Director Audree Jones-Taylor both refused requests Tuesday to explain why the Snow Park plan fizzled.

Jones-Taylor's spokeswoman Dana Riley said there were several reasons the city gave up on the dog park, one of which was the prohibitive cost of building it.

Emily Rosenberg, of the Oakland Dog Owners Group, said the city had set aside enough money to build the dog park at Astro Park when it won preliminary approval in 2006 but that costs have increased.


Advertisement

"That is what is so annoying," she said. "A little bit of money was set aside long ago and (the city) never committed to doing anything."

With no dog park in store for the lake, Riley said that in January the city will consider loosening restrictions on dogs in public parks, including identifying parks where dogs would be allowed to run off leash.

Oakland is home to five dog parks, but none of them serve the neighborhoods around Lake Merritt, where many residents have dogs but not backyards.

Finding a suitable lakeside site is tricky. The Astro Park site failed amid staunch opposition from residents who said a dog park would deprive them of open green space.

Much of the park space around the lake is a bird sanctuary where off-leash dogs are not allowed. Children's Fairyland issued concerns about alternative sites near its home on Grand Avenue.

Snow Park appeared to be the only site that could solve an intractable turf war. But many residents at nearby senior centers and condominium complexes spoke out against fencing off a half-acre of the park for dogs.

"It was a visibly bad idea," Miriam Beames said. "They were going to destroy the only green place in downtown Oakland."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435