Arroyo Grande dog park needs more oversight
January 12, 2015
OPINION BY PATTY WELSH
The Five Cities Dog Park Association has plans to put artificial grass in the majority of a large dog park in Arroyo Grande, and I have some concerns about the project.
Let me start by saying I have used the dog park ever since it has opened in 2009, and my dogs love being able to socialize with other dogs in a safe and healthy off-leash dog park. I have lived in Arroyo Grande for 15 years, and participate in city council meetings, sanitation district meetings, was on the save the village group and try to stay informed and involved, but I have found that hard to do with this project and I feel those who use the park have the right to know.
The association recently spent $5,200 to put in a nice kiosk to post information on. However, they do not use it to keep us informed of projects using donated money until the very last moment, as was the case with the artificial grass.
They sent a letter to the parks and recreation commissioners on Nov. 22, yet failed to post it in the kiosk for all to read. It was not until after Dec 10, when the project got approved that they posted what they would be doing. And the project will be 5,400 square feet of artificial grass, boarded by decomposing granite and paths to gates, and then wood chips around that.
The reason for the project is that the association has received complaints of splinters in dog feet from the wood chips, dogs eating the wood chips, and glass and metal found in the chips. We used to have real grass, however it died because there was no irrigation system to the grass, and the dogs wore it out.
This project uses less wood chips, but they are still using wood chips, so the complaints may very likely still occur even after spending all the reserves and then some. And that brings up another issue, the association is stating on their Facebook page that “they need help to fund and maintain a major improvement to the big dog park section.” It goes on to state the “projects cost will mostly be paid for from funds we have already raised…. but that will impact our ability to cover our regular cost like mutt mitts.”
So I am not sure this is a financially good project at this time, and don’t know why it got approved by parks and recreation, if they can’t cover the cost of regular maintenance, which is in the agreement with the city.
In the Nov. 22 letter to park and recreation, the association says, “minimal water usage increase” and they will wash it down “quarterly or less frequently in order to further insure there is no residual odor.”
I have talked to some local kennels that use artificial grass, and they wash their turf down every week. I went by one just today and could smell some urine odor, yet I was informed they clean it every Sunday. So if it gets to the point of needing to rinse down 5,400 square feet of artificial grass every week, it will be more than minimal, and we are in a drought. I also want to know what chemicals they will use to wash this product down with.
Then according to the Association of Synthetic Grass Installers, it is recommended to “shade the areas because the high heat of your climate creates higher temperatures on the artificial turf surface.”
So during the summer and heat waves this could become very hot on animals feet. And since dogs perspire through their feet it could cause dehydration. The grass installer’s group also recommends it is rinsed weekly. That is one other area of concern I have pointed out to the board, we need more trees to shade our dogs during hot weather, with or without the turf being installed.
One of the kennels I visited also had concerns about dogs digging at the material and causing it to separate at the seams. So who is going to do the proper maintenance on the turf?
There is also health risk with this product and according to the Center of environmental health out of Oakland, under prop 65 the association would need to post signs of cancer risk because of the use of petroleum products in the grass. There is also the concern for bacteria that can survive 90 days on this material and during wetter months algae and moss growth can cause issues. I would like time to do more research on these issues prior to the installation.
I have been able to delay this project. Nevertheless, it will presented to the Arroyo Grande City Council Jan. 13 at 6:00 p.m. at 215 East Branch Street. So I urge pet owners who use the dog park to please attend the meeting.
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