An Atherton committee decided to continue to explore the concept of building an off-leash dog park in Holbrook-Palmer Park at its meeting last month, despite some reservations from one committee member who is concerned a dog park could impact the park's tennis players.
At the Atherton Park and Recreation meeting Oct. 2, committee member Christine David presented a proposal for a 21,000-square-foot, fenced-in dog park between the Playschool preschool and the tennis courts in the 22-acre park. Committee member Bob Roeser expressed concern that noise from barking dogs would impact tennis players' serves, according to an Oct. 16 report from City Manager George Rodericks.
"Our plan does allow for room to build a sound barrier where the dog park faces the tennis courts," David said in an email after the meeting. "We are hoping this might mitigate any sounds. Plus, we will create a noise ordinance asking dog owners to manage their dogs to keep barking at a minimum. Atherton has more dog owners than tennis players and, in fact, dog walkers may be the highest daily use category for the park."
Michael Jessup, owner of Player Capital Tennis, runs the park's tennis program and spoke at the meeting about concerns that a dog park placed next to the tennis courts could be disruptive to tennis players, with more noise from dogs interacting with one another. He told The Almanac he's not opposed to a dog park in Holbrook-Palmer Park, but thinks it might be better situated in another part of the park.
"Will parents feel safe with a large amount of dogs next to tennis courts?" he said.
The park now requires dogs to remain on leash. A 2015 survey showed that an off-leash dog area was the greatest single requested new use in the park, which currently has indoor and outdoor facilities that include a baseball field, tennis courts, a playground, gardens and walking paths. Other local off-leash dog areas range from a half-acre to 1 acre in size. There are dog parks in nearby Nealon and Willow Oak parks in Menlo Park.
According to Holbrook-Palmer Park's 2015 master plan, an off-leash dog area would ideally be located between the tennis courts and the preschool, and would be designed to blend in with existing features around the park.
The estimated cost of the dog park is between $65,000 and $100,000, according to David's proposal. The project would include fencing; two self-closing double gates; two to three sets of aluminum benches/side tables; one high-low water fountain; two pet waste stations; a keyless access service to the dog area using a cellphone; signage; and a donor wall with donor levels indicated by brick size and bricks bearing the dog's name, family name and paw print.
David previously stated that there's enough interest from residents that the dog park could be fully funded through donations, and said she hopes to include a few years of maintenance if possible.
The proposal also includes alternate and short-term options in lieu of building a permanent dog park. These include: allowing off-leash dogs on the park's North Lawn with limited hours; establishing a temporary off-leash area by enclosing the recommended area with temporary enclosures; and creating a temporary, enclosed off-leash dog area on the park's Entry Lawn.
Committee members agreed to consider alternate options, discuss and assess the pros and cons, and evaluate any associated costs before bringing the item back for discussion at their Nov. 6 meeting. At this meeting, committee members hope to discuss, and then finalize, the best placement for a dog park in the park.
If approved by the committee, it will present its recommendations for the dog park at the City Council's Nov. 20 meeting.
The Atherton Park and Recreation Committee next meets at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 6 in Holbrook-Palmer Park.