The Great Dog Park Debate is back.
First, does Manteca need one?
It really is a loaded question. Did Manteca need a skate park? Did Manteca need a BMX track?
When there wasn’t a skate park or a BMX track it didn’t stop enthusiasts from creating courses to enjoy their sport. And having the facilities hasn’t stopped impromptu grinding on stairs or makeshift neighborhood ramps for bikes and skateboards. What it has done is create fairly safe options that also provide enthusiasts a place to socialize with one another. And it has – to a degree – cut down on renegade behavior by providing places where enthusiasts can ply their sports.
It is against the law to allow your dog to run off leash in parks. If a dog park is built will that still happen? Of course it will. People who have total disregard for others and the rules will continue to do what they want. Will it cut down on such problems and create a rallying spot for the community-based promotion of responsible dog ownership? Most likely.
Is the site proposed as part of the Moffat Community Center parking lot disrespectful to veterans that will be the primary users of the center? Is it disrespectful to veterans to be next to train tracks? Is it disrespectful to veterans to be near a trailer park that has seen better days? Is it disrespectful to veterans to be on a corridor where there are older motels where the homeless occasionally rent rooms to get off the streets for a few days?
Is it wise to have a dog area alongside a bike path that bicyclists, joggers, and people walking their dogs use?
Will dogs walking by go bonkers at the sight of dogs playing in a dog park? Will dogs in the dog park have the urge to bark and charge the fence when bicyclists and joggers pass by?
Is there another site that is as centrally located, will have ample parking, yet is as far away from homes and other activities in Manteca?
If a dog park doesn’t go in on the site, will the odd piece of leftover land forever be barren and unused dirt and remain an eyesore at the heart of the city?
Is there a site that would be as economical to develop as a dog park as the one on Moffat? Does the close proximity to the animal shelter count for anything?
If the dog park doesn’t go on Moffat will the city ever fulfill its 14-year promise to create one?
Why did it take Lathrop less than two years to go from embracing a dog park and getting it up and going while Manteca is turning it into a 99-year project?
Would dog owners willing pay a $1 surcharge on their dog licenses to help offset the cost of main-lining the dog park?
Does the city see value in park facilities other than for baseball, soccer, and neighborhood open space?
How will the city make sure the dog park is kept in good shape?
Will they include a shaded area with benches for dog owners to relax and chat while keeping an eye on their dogs?
Will city leaders check out other area dog parks to get an idea of just how well they operate and are kept up?
Is there any way a support group could be formed to help the city not only police the dog park but also help the animal shelter?
Will municipal leaders let a few bad dogs – and bad dog owners – color their ultimate decision?
Is anyone going to credit staff for at least displaying out-of-the-box thinking by striving to find ways to save money for coming up with the idea of a possible dog park being developed in conjunction with the Moffat Community Center project?
Is there a higher profile location that creates as safe an environment for owners and their dog than the one on Moffat Boulevard?
Will the process to determine whether this is the right location take from here to eternity to decide?
Is any final design – read that benches, fencing, trash receptacles, and water fountains – going to fit in with the Tidewater motif since it is part of the 32-acre Tidewater bikeway park? For that matter, will the outside furniture and free standing lights for the Moffat Community Center also reflect the Tidewater motif?
Is the close proximity to the animal shelter a plus as it would allow animal control officers going to and from the shelter to periodically check on the dog park to make sure everyone is following the rules?
Is the city going to let liability concerns stop it? Did such concerns stop them from putting in a skate park, BMX track or even baseball fields?
Do city leaders understand that dogs are recreation for a lot of people just like baseball, soccer, checking books out of the library and such are?
And just how serious is the city about getting a dog park in place?
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.