by Winston Chua
The San Marino Recreation Commission held a special meeting Monday night and received the opportunity to hear community input regarding a potential dog park that would be located south of the tennis courts at Lacy Park.
San Marino Eagle Scout candidate Brent Barker opened the meeting talking about his proposal before a crowd of about 30 people at the Barth Room at Crowell Public Library. The dog park would be Brent’s Eagle Scout project.
The San Marino High School student’s idea would include adding fencing, leveling uneven surfaces and adding benches to the area, which now serves as a maintenance yard, for a three-month trial basis. At that time he would leave it up to the City to determine if the park can be permanent.
A majority of residents were not too keen on the idea, however, asking about who would monitor the area or who would enforce people who don’t take responsibility of their dogs.
An assistant Scoutmaster leant support to Brent’s idea, saying that the teenager should be commended for the proposal. He said that it would encourage face-to-face interaction in the community. Many Monday night applauded the Scout’s courage, standing before an audience with definite opinions of their own and speaking before a Commission that would constructively dissect his plan.
In 2008, Brent’s older brother Derrick also proposed a dog park, but included features that would have made it a greater burden to the City. The result of that proposal was a denial by city officials.
Those who were not in support of a dog park at Lacy also said it was not necessary, that it was impractical and that it’s better suited for areas not so close to residential areas, explaining that such parks make more sense in New York City, where there are more apartments and apartment dwellers.
Commissioner Hal Suetsugu pointed out that dog enforcement is already a problem at the park. Commissioner Stephanie Perry raised concerns about how the park might be maintained.
Recreation Commissioner Louise Cook said that the proposed 9,840-square-foot area is actually too small of an area for the dogs, citing a study that said an area four times that size is more ideal. She was also concerned about the liability of the city and the cost to San Marino’s taxpayers.
Brent, who will be a camp counselor at Catalina Island this summer, said that the park would be fully funded by donors but acknowledged that Lacy employees might have to help with the upkeep. He did his best to assure the audience and Commission that the project would not be a burden to the City and that owners would take care of their pets.
Nevertheless one commissioner argued that even a three-month project would not mitigate the city’s liability. Another pointed out that neighbors are currently as close as 71 feet away from the proposed site. Steve Talt said the site location of the area would burden the local neighborhood.
Ross Barker, Brent’s father, said the park would be a facility for people, not just dogs and would help bring people together and that the area would be a benefit for dog owners.
In the end the Commission encouraged Brent to provide them with more specific information, including more details about surrounding dog parks. They vowed to continue working with the Titan and promised to help provide direction, no matter what the next steps might look like.