Groups in Paso fetch deal for dog park

Paso Robles, which doesn’t allow dogs in its public parks, could have its first off-leash area for furry friends by the spring.

The City Council this month approved a deal to establish a temporary dog park on vacant city-owned land just east of the senior center on Scott Street until it can afford to build tennis courts on the site.

The project entails a 10-year lease with the San Luis Obispo Parks Open Space & Trails Foundation. The lease has yet to be passed. The park will be constructed and maintained by volunteers through the foundation’s Parks-4-Pups committee.

The estimated $35,000 project, slated to open April 1, is bankrolled through loans and donations. No city funds will be used.

It will be the first dog park in Paso Robles and the ninth in San Luis Obispo County, three of which are run by Parks-4-Pups.

“Although we had challenges along the way, it’s very satisfying for our group to make this gift to the city of Paso Robles,” Pups President Paula O’Farrell said. “It demonstrates the power of volunteers and potential of a grassroots effort.”

The new roughly 1-acre spot is modeled after Templeton’s volunteer-maintained Vineyard Dog Park with benches, kiosks, trees and wood chip ground cover.

The new site, named Sherwood Dog Park, wasn’t the first pick but ultimately became the best fit.

Larry Moore Park along the Salinas River was originally chosen for what was then to be called Riverbank Dog Park in fall 2010. But residents who opposed the park encouraged the group to move plans elsewhere.

Other sites included a triangular lot off Creston Road that was too small, and an open space off Kleck Road in Montebello Oaks that required an expensive access road.

Neighbors around the new spot are seemingly happy with the addition. A door-to-door petition from the Pups group drew support.

The parcel wasn’t originally considered because the city had been saving it for new tennis courts when it could afford them.

Among the few issues were senior center parking impacts and concerns among local tennis players. The senior worries were quelled with outreach saying the dog park’s popular hours are after 5 p.m. on weekdays and during weekends when the center is closed. Eleven angled parking spaces are also included.

Some members of the North County Women’s Tennis Club worried that the dog park would delay construction of the tennis courts, while its other members support the park regardless.

Construction will begin in mid-January. The California Conservation Corps will help with labor, organizers said.The group encourages users to donate $25 for an annual pass or $1 per day for occasional visits to fund ongoing park maintenance. For more information, visit www.parks4pups.org.