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New turf, dog area approved for El Camino Park

Original post made on Apr 24, 2012

What began as an effort to build a reservoir at El Camino Park transformed into a broader overhaul of the Palo Alto park Monday night when the City Council approved $2.5 million in new improvements, including a synthetic turf, expanded parking and a dog exercise area.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 9:38 AM

Comments (39)

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Posted by Rdawg
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2012 at 10:18 am

Why bother building another dog park? Many dog owners in Palo Alto seem to believe that every park is a dog park. I doubt that will change. There are many signs all over our neighborhood school indicating that dogs must be leashed, and that dogs aren't supposed to use the drinking fountains.

Yet, every day... dogs run around unleashed and their owners bring them over to lap out of the drinking fountains. A friend of mine told one of these owners that their dog was supposed to be leashed and she just said, "Oh, I didn't know."

So, why bother spending money on a park when they won't use it?

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Posted by Animal services
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2012 at 10:39 am

It would be nice if these funds could go to Palo alto animal services instead. If people are really concerned with the well-being of our pooches, this seems like a better place to spend it.

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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2012 at 11:17 am

Is this facility for just the nearby neighbors and dogs in Downtown North OR is it for those plus everybody else? WHERE do all these 'everybody-elsers" PARK on a 'game-day'. In Downtown NORTH?? And where will all the athletes and fans park? Sixty-eight places is NOT enough. What's to keep downtown workers from parking there? SOMEBODY THINK!! Reminds me of the new 'very low cost' apartment complex going up on Alma wall-to-wall next to very expensive 800 HIgh where apartments now facing the sun are going to be affected. As for these new very low income residents, where do they get groceries, get a bus -to where?, and will they have autos? WHERE is the Planning Commission and the Planners and the Council? Did they fail Sensible Planning 101? El Camino Park does not have the parking capability now.

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Posted by
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm is a registered user.

I posted this about a week ago! Good Luck

Wow! Poop hits the fan once again. We are in it allot in our business. (pooper scoopers). In San Mateo we had a trial run which took areas of some of the larger parks and used them for off leash areas. After a year most of them became permanent. During the year there was less off leash incidents and less poop in public areas.

We have donated and waste bin and patrol the off leash park area by our house. Very nice, people from the local neighborhood have developed friendships at the off leash area.

It can be worked out we just all have to work together.

Rick Nava DoodyCalls

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Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Rdawg, you are right. Those of us with DINOS (dogs in need of space, or reactive dogs) that are leashed and walking along, minding their own business, should not have to deal with exuberant unleashed dogs in our less sociable dogs' faces. DINOS usually avoid dog parks for that reason--there is no way to control the interaction.

That being said, I am ALL FOR dog parks for those dogs who don't have issues (issues often stemming from a couple of scary incidents when the dog was young) and I have had dogs who did well at dog parks.

I have personally asked an owner whose off leash dog kept approaching my rescued dog to please "call your dog" and I was reprimanded for having mine on a leash because the leash "causes aggression." While that can be partially true, leashing your dog is THE LAW.

I'm glad to see another dog park being planned. Thank you Larry Klein!

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Uhhh, leashes don't "cause aggression." That person was an idiot.

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Posted by Dog parks in Menlo Park
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

FYI, there are two off-leash dog parks in Menlo Park, both of which are close to Palo Alto.

Nealon Park and Willow Oaks Park both have off-leash dog areas. Nealon park is only about 1/2 mile from El Camino Park.

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Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Now I just have to teach my dog friend to come when I call.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Yeah, but the hours for dogs at Nealon SUCK. The Willow hours are so-so.

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm

> “Did they fail Sensible Planning 101?”

Obviously. Also Management 101, Budgeting 101 and Common Sense 101.

Why spend money on a football-field sized dog park while cutting Animal Services?

Palo Alto will have the most grandiose parks in the state, and since parks have been declared “infrastructure,” the $500M backlog will keep mounting along with the requirement to put more and more money into the reserve fund.

I can’t wait to vote NO on that bond for a new police station.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Methinks Pat needs to increase their reading comprehension.

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Posted by susie
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Decibel park. Dogs barking, caltrain, level crossing, Alma, Sandhill and ElCamino all coming together in one big cacophony.

Dogs can have it. I will stay clear!

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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm

It never ceases to amaze me. Our city leaders and elected officials have proclaimed for many years now that we are in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis. We continue to face annual budget deficits. The city does not have the funds to pay for vital and essential infrastructure needs. These same city leaders have floated the possibility of paying for these needs with yet another tax increase. Deep cuts have already taken place in our public safety and infrastructure services. And what's their response? Approve the latest in a long list of expenditures for a desired improvement, but certainly not an essential one. 2.5 million dollars can suddenly be summoned for a park upgrade, but yet there is no money to pay for vital needs without raising taxes. Absolutely unreal. The hypocrisy and double-speak is absolutely unreal.

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Posted by Elaine
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Marrol, I'm guessing that the funds that would be used for the park upgrade are restricted and have to be used for parks (as opposed to public safety and infrastructure). The article above said they're "development fees [that] are collected from developers for the purpose of improving parks, as compensation for the increased demand for city facilities and services that new residential and commercial buildings brings. "

Now, you could argue that we need to limit growth, but that seems to be a different issue.

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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 25, 2012 at 5:16 am

2.5 million for this idiotic idea?
What is the over-riding need for a dog-park?
How about people parks?

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2012 at 9:47 am

El Camino Park is the wrong place for a dog run, it will only serve Menlo Park residents.

A dog run should have been built at Greer Park close to H.101, but instead they build a picnic area close to H.101 and nobody uses it for obvious reasons!!! It's amazing how often our City Council makes the wrong decisions.

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Posted by Kirsten
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 25, 2012 at 11:01 am

Menlo Park is sorely in need of off-leash dog areas. It's ridculous how few areas are available for dogs considering the wealth here. Owning a border collie rescue mix, she needs daily off leash running time. I'm always looking over my shoulder for some do-gooder to tell me "There's a leash law". Please, most dogs that are off leash are the ones that are the most social. It's the dogs that are never allowed to be off a leash that are quite often the most aggressive. Another reason for me to move to Truckee, (where dogs run free and are all friendly) and take my property tax dollars ($26,000+ annual) elsewhere! There are enough open spaces/parks for children and adults already!

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2012 at 11:41 am

Kirsten -- Please leash your dog. I am disabled and am supposed to walk for physical therapy. But I have been knocked over twice by friendly cute dogs and have been injured. Thanks.

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Posted by anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm

the whole idea of encouraging pets to me seems not a good one for the city to get into. as the density of palo alto goes up pets are just a problem. people should either have pets and take care of them themselves or not have them.

i do not want my taxes and resources to go for people who in general that i have seen are self-centered and irresponsible, and messy.

this is a waste of a lot of money, and the location is really a waste as well.

what is wrong with palo alto city decisions?

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Posted by Not a dog lover
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Loving and spending on dogs is very fashionable. Lots of free floating money around these parts. Even more fashionable than carrying water bottles, which isn't in fashion anymore. Women especially need these fashion accessories.
Dogs that accost pedestrians and sniff at one's crotch are disgusting and intrusive. Their owners need to keep them on leash and off of other people. Saying the dog is "friendly" adds insult to injury.
And also, keep your excrement off my lawn.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Parks are for sharing and it is about time that people realised that dog owners are also residents and want to share the parks too.

We need to get off leash times in the parks so that the dogs can run on grass not on dirt.

We need to get children in safe, fenced off playgrounds so that they don't run off or into traffic. We need to get an hour in the am and pm for dogs to run off leash. If anyone who doesn't want to be near dogs uses all the other hours of the day then that is called sharing the park.

I am not a dog owner, I wouldn't around here, because having grown up around dogs I know that they need a large area to run free and the dog runs around here don't do it. Give them their own time, please.

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Posted by Sally
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Why not use that money for the Palo ALto Animal Services, rather
than closeing our shelter.

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Posted by Poe
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Wow, the dog hate on this board is AMAZING! Some of you really need Dog in your life. They are after all, the REAL healers.

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Posted by paloaltotreewatch
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Apr 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm

It will guarantee more pet poop in San Francisquito Creek.
Just by proximity alone even with all feasible abatement strategies.

I don't think we want that - especially if one day we want the salmon and other fishes to return.

You should be planting a grove of redwoods or other trees there.

Perhaps even a visible placard to honor the Ohlone Indians who lived there by the creek.

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Posted by Fred
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 25, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Quite frankly I think we have catered to the dog owning population enough. I have heard all of the excuses time and time again.

My dog is friendly
I ALWAYS pick up the little gifts they leave.
Its okay to have it drink from the fountain at the school/park. etc etc etc.

Cut to the chase. Set aside one park, fence it in and let it go to the dogs. Have a strict and enforced leash law at the remaining parks, and have some stiff fines for the little gifts many owners leave behind.

Que the irate dog owners:

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Posted by Amazed
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 26, 2012 at 7:35 am

OK, let me get this straight...

The City is in dire finanacial position such that it is taking money out of employees' paychecks through unfair and unrealistic cuts via heavy-handed labor negotiations and proposed elimination of Traffic Police and Animal Services positions, and yet, they can freely spend $2.5 million on a dog park???? Really?

Tough for the City to get its story straight when they keep saying one thing and doing many other things...sure, hire more consultants and assistants for the Directors, or imported Italian tile for the City Manager's private loo.

Are you amazed too?

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Posted by Barbara Millin
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 9:11 am

I commend the city council for wishing to provide additional facilities for dog owners. There have been large community meetings over the last few years to this end.

Will a half acre park meet the needs of Palo Alto dog owners, therefore be successful and represent money well spent?

A successful dog park has become an important public service in recent years.
It is a place where dog owners and their dogs socialize and exercise. It is a place where relationships and community building occur due to the frequency of contact neighbors have with one another, as many as 14 a week.

What makes for a successful dog park? A study by UC Davis states that success is correlated with size. It is generally recognized that the bare minimum need for a successful dog park is one acre.

The most popular dog park within 10 miles of Palo Alto is Nealon Field in Menlo Park, a three (3) acre dual use park which is visited by 30 to 80 dogs, many with Palo Alto licenses, within a two hour period each weekday morning. Nealon is followed in popularity by Jordan, Gunn and Hoover fields...oops, sorry, they aren't dog parks.

Palo Alto has three substandard dog parks, all in south Palo Alto. Mitchell Park with 3/4 acre is the largest. Hoover and Greer are far smaller.

All of the above has been known by the Parks and Recreation Commission and our city council for many years. There have been hearings and meetings. That is what makes the suggested half acre plan so surprising.

North Palo Alto needs a successful, good size dog park, especially in the El Camino location. I believe that few large dogs will be taken to a half acre park. How attractive will a less than desirable facility be to small dog owners, especially when it is located near an area known as a loitering place for our community's down trodden?

This project could reach its full potential if it is expanded to take in the needs of large dogs. This would require making the dog area at least one acre. There is a second option. By fencing in the entire 12 acre park on all four sides with entrance gates, people could bring their large dogs to play, safe from traffic. This would bring a critical mass of dog owners into the area. This would be an "unofficial" dog park like our other successful "unofficial" dog parks.

To make it official, designate all of El Camino Park as a dog park where sports teams are given preferential treatment and special hours for dogs.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

I see very little value in a dog park that is not in walking distance from home. Why put a dog in need of exercise in a car?

Unless there is a time in all parks where dogs can run offleash it is not going to make a difference. Sensible dog owners take their dogs for walks not rides in the car for exercise!

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:45 am

Resident - a lot of people who drive to dog parks do it so they dogs can get LEGAL offleash exercise, something people in your town scream about. The dogs also have their own social time, which is generally good for them. I know a number of disabled people who've been able to keep their dogs well exercised due to dog park. Ditto people who go on hikes w/their dogs before going to dog parks, thus making cars necessary. You do know that dogs have been barred from a lot of trails west of PA, right? This means that a lot of the hikes are available on the other side of 101, where getting there as a pedestrian isn't necessarily feasible.

We don't take our dogs to dog parks, but they're an important feature for dog owners who do. Your judgements on how best to exercise dogs are silly. Just as w/other aspects of life, it's best to have several options for taxpayers whose pets need exercise outdoors, whether that's w/a walk or a romp at the dog park or both.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:55 am

Amazed - no, you don't have it right. It amazes me that in a town filled w/so many smart, educated people, you can't figure out that's really happening w/your new dog park.

This isn't money snatched out of the hands of employees, & neither is it 2.5 mil.

I think many of you are guided about your wrongful assumptions when you post, instead of the reported info, which is subtle & could use some clearer explanations as to the origins of the funds.

Go back & read the article. Read Paul Losch's comments.

I know that your city government does stupid things sometimes, & that's part of why it's easy to believe what you're now wrongfully reading. But for pity's sake, use your critical thinking abilities correctly when reading about the cost of the park & the origins of the funds. Demand clearer explanations from your city leaders AND the media *then* decide if you want to be critical. This has gotten ridiculously laughable.

And to the whiner's complaining non-residents will use the park - of course they will. PA residents use the other cities dog parks, just as they do other non-dog parks. Get over it. There are gated communities in Atherton you can move to if that's how you want to live, & you also have Foothills Park. Jeez Louise.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:12 am


I'm in total agreement with you, but going hiking with your dog or going in a car to a dog park is not something most dog owners do on a twice daily basis for exercise for their dog. They take their dog out for a morning walk and an evening walk and if there is a park nearby then that becomes the destination. There probably are some exceptions, but most dog owners I know are also busy and a 20 minute morning and evening walk are what they plan on a regular daily basis and longer treks when suitable.

If you want to understand why so many dogs are unleashed in the parks it is because they live nearby and the dog owners are doing what I described. If you want to get rid of the all day unleashed dogs then it seems sensible to me to give all parks (not schools) an hour in the am and another in the pm when those who don't wish to encounter offleash dogs can stay away. Likewise, put the children's play areas in a gated area to keep them safe and will also keep offleash dogs out.

Makes sense to me.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:24 am

All true, resident. I suspect that non-working folks will populate the dog park & then weekends & before & after work hours it'll fill w/people who work. When I was a dog park-er, I'd take the dogs, then run errands on the way home - all by car. I didn't do it every day, but I did it to break up monotony for them & me (Okay, maybe they didn't notice the monotony, but I did).

This is where dogs are like kids: people will put them in cars to take them to special destinations outside of their neighborhood, for a variety of reasons. If people will be able to access the park on foot from downtown, I can see people going there on foot. I don't know if it'll lower the numbers of offleash dogs at your local parks.

Along w/the bad, I've seen a lot of good happen at dog parks. Honestly, if I was tempted to take my dog offleash at a local park but knew that there were dog parks roughly at either end of my city, I'd have conscience enough to hustle doggy to park. I hope others will do the same.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:53 am


I get your drift. My experience with dogs growing up and the dog owners in my family are probably very different. Our dogs would never go in the car, they would make the car too dirty as being the main reason, but it would never occur to us to be a good idea. Our dogs romped in our backyard but still loved the twice daily walk with humans. Those in my family with dogs still do the same thing. A walk with the dog involves different clothes and can't be part of an errand walk as the dogs can't be taken into stores or left tied up outside anymore (although I remember a time when that happened regularly). Leaving a dog in a car in hot weather is not a good idea either.

If the culture is car centered, then I expect people will put the dogs in the car. If the culture is public transport, walking or even biking, then walking the dog has to be a different outing.

I think we are in agreement.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Good points, Resident. Our dogs are often in our car in cool weather - they love it because we usually tie in something fun for them. I also will take a dog w/me at night for safety.

When we were kids, the dogs would be in the car when going to the beach or that sort of thing. Otherwise, we took them on neighborhood walks - there were no dog parks in those days.

I'm sure this park will get a lot of use & if it's vibe is similar to Menlo's dog parks, things will go well.

I do miss the days when an off leash dog didn't make people apoplectic, when dogs were allowed on leash on beaches and on the redwood trails to the west. I hope that there are parts of this country where that's still the way it is. But at least now, less pets are euthanized in shelters & veterinary medicine has improved. The more sophisticated we get results in a tradeoff.

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Posted by Amazed
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Hmmmm, here's my critial thinking and reading skills:

""For Price, money was the swaying factor. Given the city's limited resources, she said, the council should defer its discussion of a dog park "to a future time when we can complete environmental (analysis) and identify the appropriate funding."

"I think this is an exciting opportunity to get an excellent community asset completed," Klein said. "Yes, it's expensive, but we have an opportunity here that we don't have elsewhere, so we should spend the park-impact fees.""

Yes, the monies should be held for until further analysis on alternative funding sources. The 2007 voter-approved funds are still in the City coffers, correct? The same City coffers that are controlled by the City Council, correct? The same monies that would not need to be spent to fulfillment to do the emergency water supply project? Meaning, and using critical thinking and reading skills, that there appears to be budget savings that Council members have elected to spend on synthetic turf for doggies.

Hmm, dog park versus fire, animal services and police services...I have two dogs. But when my house is on fire or being burglarized, synthetic turf with dog poop isn't going to do me one bit of good.

Look, the decision is made. I voiced my dissent over the Council's decision and hypocrisy. Respect that instead of taking a swing at my apparent lack of critical thinking skills and reading comprehension.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Oooh, someone sure got touchy because they didn't understand how much the new dog park will cost. I'm sorry that you can't take criticism well nor can you debate. But oh, well, I guess that makes you not worth my time.

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Posted by
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm is a registered user.

Please keep in mind that approximately 40% of the population in general own dogs. Even 30% is a big number and they all pay taxes. What percent of funds are going to the dog park?
In our line of work we meet all types of dog owners, for some these are truly their best friends and sometimes meeting others at a dog park is place that they can begin friendships. This seems like a very small % of funds considering all the parks out there. How many people have children that use the parks? ect.

Some compassion and real consideration is required.

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Posted by Think before you spend our money
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 27, 2012 at 9:59 am

Tunneling under Alma to get to a dog park that is so remote that few will use it is silly.
This is a classic waste of our money. The rationale on the council that we have to take advantage of the opportunity to get a dog park now because the opportunities don;t come along is silly. The same folks buy loads of cheap junk on sale that will sit in their garage because its such a good deal they don't want to miss it -unfortunately we will have to keep paying for this boondoggle. How about direct pedestrian and bike access to the new park from the residential side of Alma. How about enough parking to satisfy a league soccer game and softball game at the same time? What is the plan there? Is there a plan? The city council needs to think before they spend money we don;t have.

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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.


Paul Losch from the Parks and Recreation Commission here.

The Commission did not recommend the dog park, although it considred the option. City Council members decided to go forward with it, and they are the decision makers at the end of the day.

What troubles me about your comments is that the most siginificant aspects of this re-build of El Camino Park, apart from the underground reservoir, are exactly the things you describe: namely better and more parking, a drop off zone, improved playing fields.

Is there a plan? Yes. You do not appear to know that, if I understand your comments accurately.

I and most of my fellow Commissioners walked this park numerous times and had extenstive discussions about the best course of action before City Staff provided a proposal that the Commisssion passed up to Council.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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