Cambrian: Opinion

Have your voice heard on how Cambria Dog Park is maintained, developed and operated

Elaine Horn of Cambria visits the new dog park with her great Dane and Australian shepherd in 2017.
Elaine Horn of Cambria visits the new dog park with her great Dane and Australian shepherd in 2017.

It is time for users of our new dog park at the end of Rodeo Grounds Road to step up and become dog-park members to manage, operate and maintain the facility. The property is owned by Cambria Community Services Distgrict, which built the new park and the parking area. Managing, operating, maintaining and further developing the park — including the necessary funding—– are the sole responsibilities of dog-park users and other park supporters in the community.

The dog park’s current executive board, which I have chaired for several years, has called a planning meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in the community room of Rabobank, 1070 Main St., Cambria. Meeting agenda topics include, but are not limited to: The importance and benefits of becoming a dog-park member; dog-park user commitments to manage, operate and maintain the dog park; structural and equipment needs to enhance dog-park use; and increasing dog-park membership and other revenue.

We have come a long way since 2003 when Joyce and John Heller (both now deceased) led a dedicated group of volunteers in getting CCSD to approve a temporary dog park at Main Street and Santa Rosa Creek Road. “Temporary” was a key word, since the permanent dog park was always scheduled to be part of the community park on the old rodeo grounds.

After a few years of very informal operation, we created a dog park membership organization with directors. In 2009, we amended our bylaws to become an unincorporated nonprofit benefit organization. In 2010, we became a project committee of the San Luis Obispo Parks Open Space and Trails Foundation (SLOPOST). Nine dog parks in the county are project committees of SLOPOST, which is a charitable nonprofit organization (501c3) that encourages parks, open space and trails in the county. There are two important financial benefits to us from our association with SLOPOST. First, it allows us to accept donations that are tax deductible to the donors. Second, SLOPOST is our banker. All receipts and expenditures go through SLOPOST.

From our start 15 years ago, we dog-park users have done the heavy lifting in bringing in water (in five-gallon jugs), providing dog-park dispensers stocked with poop bags, hauling the main trash receptacle once a week to the road for pickup by Mission Disposal, policing the dog park to pick up dog poop that irresponsible dog owners chose not to pick up on their own, removing inevitable intrusive weeds, and repairing our increasingly deteriorating fencing. That’s what we do.

Since 2010, when we joined SLOPOST, we have created a sound financial base. Each year, we sought and received annual dog-park memberships ($25 minimum), received other user contributions through a donation box at the park, received donations from donation jars placed at Cambria businesses, received memorial donations – and, annually, asked members to donate more than their annual dues to help develop the park. Every year, members stepped up to donate more. More donations always exceeded annual memberships. And, in 2017, the Cambria Community Council made a major grant to our park for its development at our new location.

Because of these efforts, our park organization now has substantial funds to support what we want to do in the future, but we need your voice and membership support to secure that future.

I cite these results in our organization’s volunteer and financial results over many years to show that we have created the base for managing, operating and maintaining the new dog park. One of our agenda items for June 28, in addition to increasing dog-park membership, should be to identify potential new organization leaders for an election next year. We current leaders are ready to pass our batons.

I look forward to seeing you June 28.

Tim Roche, Cambria Dog Park Executive Board