We have a no-bones-about-it bouquet for the Five Cities Dog Park Association, which was instrumental in developing, managing and maintaining Arroyo Grande’s Elm Street Dog Park for nearly six years. During that time, the association funded park improvements and supplies and provided volunteers to monitor the popular off-leash park. That’s an amazing public service.
Lamentably, the group recently found it necessary to cut ties with the park and with the city of Arroyo Grande, which owns the property. The decision followed a disagreement over the association’s plan to replace wood chips in the large dog area with artificial turf and decomposed granite. The city initially approved the plan, but changed its mind after some park users circulated a petition challenging it. Among other concerns, opponents were worried about drainage and odors associated with artificial turf.
In response, the city asked the Five Cities Dog Park Association to invest an additional $30,000 to purchase a more expensive form of turf. At that point, the Five Cities Dog Park Association bowed out. That’s understandable; sounds like these volunteers had already endured more than their share of shabby treatment, which included finding shards of glass left in suggestion boxes at the park. (Bone-headed brickbats to those responsible for such a mean move.)
So what does the future hold for the dog park?
For now, it remains open; the Arroyo Grande City Council has agreed to pay a contractor $7,800 to maintain the park for the next six months, but it hopes another volunteer group will offer to take over management of the facility.
We hope so, too. But given the important recreational role that dog parks play — they provide both pets and people the opportunity to exercise and socialize — the city needs to develop a Plan B in case volunteers don’t step up, even if that means making city employees responsible for park management.
Best wishes for cliff crash survivor
We’re delivering a get-well-soon bouquet to Debra Lopez of Atascadero, the remarkable woman who survived three days on rainwater and prayer after crashing her truck down a bluff near Ragged Point. Lopez, 57, told a police sergeant that she took her eyes off the road to put out a cigarette and failed to make a turn. Her pickup rolled 150 feet down a cliff off Highway 1, landing on its roof in a spot that wasn’t visible from the road.
Lopez — who had been reported missing after failing to return home Saturday — suffered a head wound and bruised ribs. She spent the first day stranded in her pickup, but the thought of her family motivated her to try to make it up the cliff. She reached the highway about 5 p.m. Tuesday and flagged down help.
Along with being an inspiring story of survival, this is a powerful reminder of just how treacherous Highway 1 can be. Please, if you’re planning a trip up the coast to Big Sur, be extra careful out there.
Land conservationists had it right
A bouquet of polite restraint to land conservationists, who have yet to say (at least in our hearing) the dreaded words “I told you so” when discussing Wild Cherry Canyon.
But yes, they did warn us that failure to preserve Wild Cherry Canyon could result in development of this gorgeous piece of property near Avila Beach. And just as they foretold, plans are in the works to develop between 1,000 and 1,500 homes there.
It’s far from a done deal — the development proposal needs to be approved by the county and possibly the Coastal Commission. And if the plan does get the OK, 90 percent of the 2,400-acre property would be conserved as open space.
Still, it’s hard not to be disappointed all over again when we think about how close the American Land Conservancy came to purchasing the entire parcel for the State Parks system. The conservancy worked for years to raise $21 million to buy the land through a combination of public grants and private contributions. But in the end, the project hit a snag when the state Public Works board failed to allocate the final $6.9 million needed to close the deal.
As we said at the time, we aren’t going to apportion blame, but we continue to believe that if the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations had pushed for approval of state funding for the project, it would have happened. For that, we’re shipping a crate of cherry-stained brickbats to Sacramento.