Clovis has parks, trails and a recreation center, but some residents think one amenity is missing: A dog park.
Josie McGuire and Michelle Jenkins want to change that. They started a petition drive to bring a dog park to Clovis and plan to present signatures to city officials this summer.
“We feel there is a real need since Clovis has over 100,000 people and we have zero,” said Jenkins, who owns two small terriers, Onyx and Harley.
They say the timing is right and has community support.
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For more details on how to sign the petition, email Josie McGuire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I went out for 40 minutes with the girls (a Queensland heeler Jersey and terrier-mix Mitzi) and grandchildren and we collected 57 signatures in 40 minutes,” McGuire said.
At a recent city meeting to discuss the future of city parks, McGuire said dozens of residents showed up to offer support. Others have attended informal meetings at a Clovis diner.
And, they put a table outside the Walmart on Herndon and Clovis avenues. In two hours Friday, they collected 157 more signatures, McGuire said. Sunday, they got another 123 in an hour.
City officials say it could happen, but only after the city completes an evaluation of its park system, which is expected to take a few months.
We don’t want to do it wrong, we don’t want to rush and put it in the wrong spot or build something we can’t maintain correctly.
Luke Serpa, Clovis city manager
Dog parks aren’t a new idea for Clovis. A group actively campaigned for one in 2008 to the City Council, but the recession kept the city from continuing research on a project that wasn’t a high priority.
City Manager Luke Serpa said he knows the need for a dog park exists. He said dog park advocates had good timing this time around, coming to the city as its parks evaluation was getting underway.
“They were heard loud and clear,” he said.
The study will examine the city’s parks, looking at needs and locations where parks aren’t drawing as much of a crowd as they once did. The city’s consultant will return with ideas for new amenities, such as dog parks, and locations where they may be the best fit, Serpa said.
In recent years, Clovis has incorporated a botanical garden and skateboarding facility into its parks and added park-like rest areas along its trails. The city also opened up an 11.5-acre grass field at Sierra and Temperance avenues, a neighborhood where the city had long-promised a park for residents.
A dog park will be ranked among other amenities and requests.
“We don’t want to do it wrong,” he said, “we don’t want to rush and put it in the wrong spot or build something we can’t maintain correctly.”
But before a dog park can open, Parks Manager Eric Aller said the city has several issues to consider: “What size do we need? Are we going to have it all grass? Will we use bark? We also need to look at security issues and are we going to put it at an existing facility?”
The city also will need watering stations, benches and shade, not to mention, funding.
Aller said the city could consider grants, using volunteers or use general fund dollars. Clovis also could consider an agreement to use a flood control basin under an arrangement similar to Fresno, Aller said.
The Fresno experience
Fresno has six dog parks – two that segregate large and small dogs – dotted across the city and has years of experience for Clovis to learn from, said Levi Winebrenner, a Fresno parks supervisor.
Dog parks, he said, are a self-led recreation activity that relies on dog owners policing themselves and their animals by ensuring the cleanliness and safety of the sites.
You should have clear, concise rules that cover the most broad areas.
Levi Winebrenner, Fresno parks supervisor
“If we see something out of control, we will call animal services, but we don’t have someone standing out there manning these parks,” Winebrenner said. “You should have clear, concise rules that cover the most broad areas. Also, have adequate resources for waste collection, enough trash bins and (dispensers for) doggy bags.”
And, Valley Animal Center has pools, obstacle courses and other dog park facilities, said Devon Prendergast, a spokeswoman for the Fresno-based nonprofit and adoption center near Highway 168 and Dakota Avenue.
But while city-owned sites are free to dog owners, the Valley Animal Center dog park is $35 per year and $5 for one-time use. Of the 570 annual members, she said, 150 list Clovis as their home addresses.
Dog owners have requests.
John Crockford would like to see a fenced-off site somewhere in the city for his Australian shepherd mix, Matilda, to play. He takes her to a large swath of grass at the 11.5-acre Sierra Meadows Park at Temperance and Sierra avenues to toss a ball and get in some exercise.
“I am constantly looking out for other dogs,” he said, Matilda taking a seat in a sprinkler-formed puddle with her tennis ball. “If we had a dog park, I wouldn’t need to.”
With his young-adult dog, Bowser, roaming close by, Bryan Tolotti, said the boxer-pit bull needs a place to run, too.
I like bringing him here so he can run and run and just knock himself out.
Bryan Tolotti, a Clovis dog owner
He likes the idea of a Clovis dog park, but he’s still learning Bowser’s behavior. So far, Bowser has shown he plays well with other dogs. He’s taken Bowser to the Woodward Park dog park, but isn’t convinced it’s Bowser’s favorite place.
But Bowser gets excited, he said, when they start riding toward Sierra Meadows Park.
“I like bringing him here so he can run and run and just knock himself out,” Tolotti said.
Outside the Herndon Avenue Walmart in Clovis, Paul and Tammy Elizalde of Clovis, who have three dogs, stopped their shopping cart to sign the dog park petition.
“We have big and little ones,” Tammy Elizalde said. “It would be nice to have a park for both.”
Asked if she has a location in mind: “Anywhere, it doesn’t really matter.”