Dog owners are lining up on opposite sides of the fence in a dispute over whether or not to build a dog park on a half-acre section of Hacienda Park in Cameron Park.
On one side of the issue are El Dorado Dog Owners Guild (EDDOG) members who have raised approximately $40,000 to set up a dog park inside Hacienda. The proposed fenced enclosure would allow dogs to run off the leash.
On the other side are residents, most of whom are also dog owners, who like Hacienda just the way it is and who say a dog park would destroy its “pristine environment” by carving out a fenced area right in the heart of the park.
Local residents were invited to give input on the proposed park at a meeting on April 12. Paul Ryan, Cameron Park District Parks superintendent, and district board members Alan Clarke and Scott McNeil attended.
Cameron Park resident Tom Jackson said they were told the intent of the meeting was to find out how people felt about the dog park. “But when we got there, our comments were heard but then we were told it was a ‘done deal’ and everything that needed to be done administratively had been done. We wondered why we were invited to the meeting if it was a done deal. I felt it was a waste of time.”
Residents complained later that this was the first time they had heard of the project although Charles Jackson, who is Tom’s father, said the dog park had been in the works since 2007. “But it wasn’t built because the district didn’t have the money to pay for it,” he said.
Carole Murphy said she talked to roughly 125 people in her neighborhood and only one person was aware of the project. “We were told we were strange because we weren’t keeping up with this. Our intention is not to cause trouble but if the public doesn’t approve it, is it still a done deal?”
Carole’s husband, Patrick, spoke at the district board meeting at the directors’ regular meeting in late April. “I was at the April 12 meeting,” he told the board. “I came when I saw the notice. I thought it was an open forum but it wasn’t. I don’t feel we’ve had the opportunity to give input. It’s a beautiful park and we need to think before ripping out trees and putting up a fence. I want us to get it right. Let’s rethink this because it’s the last vestige of a pristine beautiful park.”
Dog pork supporter Gerald Lillpop said the fence won’t be intrusive and the district won’t have to spend a penny to put in the dog park since it’s being financed with privately raised money. “We get a free upgrade and the dog group gets the responsibility,” he said.
Barbara Rogers said she backed the dog park as well. “It’s been in the works for years now,” she said. She cautioned the board against changing their minds.
A member of EDDOG also testified that there had been multiple articles about the proposed dog park in the local press and read several of them to the audience.
The board of directors took no action since the dog park wasn’t on the agenda. The area in the park where the fence is to be cited has been flagged, but nothing has been erected yet.
In the meantime, those residents speaking out against the dog park are contemplating what their next actions should be.