It's flatland sandwiched between the Arroyo de la Laguna just south of the Bernal Avenue bridge and the on-ramp to southbound I-680. Heavy brush along the arroyo and the Pleasanton Ridge to the west make the area a bit more attractive than it sounds, but then dogs just want a place to run unfettered, not a scenic park.
Pet owner pleas for more dog parks in Pleasanton, or at least one more, go back well past the time I started writing this column more than 14 years ago. When Pleasanton was half the size, city leaders fenced off a strip of Muirwood Park next to the freeway for a dog run, adding a few benches and tables to please their owners. It's done its job and pet (dog) aficionados long ago asked city leaders to do more.
In 2000, when Pleasanton acquired free-of-charge 138 acres of the 515-acre Bernal site that developers bought, pet lovers were ecstatic. This land, now called Bernal Community Park, had all the room needed for the many sports and 4-H demonstration fields planned there along with a youth center, cultural arts center, wooded trails and even a meandering creek with surely several acres left over for a dog park.
But then the City Council, in its wisdom or lack of it, specifically ruled out using any part of Bernal for a dog park when it won approval from voters in November 2006 of the Bernal Property Phase II Specific Plan (Measure P). Lighted baseball fields, several of which have since been built, and many other amenities, which have not, were OK, but no dogs allowed. To change the no-dog park clause would mean going back to voters, which no one wants to do.
So fast-forward to last February after another eight years of petitions and emails to city leaders. The current council, no doubt exasperated with all the dog talk, and with several on the council who own dogs, gave the green light to the Parks and Recreation Commission and Community Services Director Susan Andrade-Wax to find other dog park sites as part of the commission's new Master Plan. In their research, they determined that at least two acres are needed to meet existing demand. Besides the immediate need for a second off-leash park, a third is also needed, and maybe more.
To be fair, dogs parks should be scattered in different parts of Pleasanton, including Staples Ranch to the northeast, Vineyard Avenue or around Callippe Preserve to the southeast, and in the vicinity of the new Safeway Gateway Center at Bernal and Valley Avenue.
The Marilyn Murphy Kane Trail site won out at the start. The primary uses for this 13-acre area where the trail begins are already earmarked for open space, park and recreation, possibly an environmental education center, and Native American history reflective area and other public and quasi-public uses compatible with the Kane trail. The staging area already includes 12 parking stalls, though more will have to be added, a paved entrance area, covered benches and a water line.
The distance from homes farther south on Lagoon is enough to assure little noise or inconvenience from a dog park that's likely to become quite popular to pet owners. Even though it's not on the city's east or south sides, it's easy to reach and will be especially convenient to Foothill Road neighborhoods.
The Tankana Design Group, a San Francisco-based landscape architecture and urban design firm, has been awarded the design work, which, with construction, is expected to cost in the range of $300,000. The dog park could be open later this year.