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SCVNews.com | Central Bark Gives Canines, Humans a Chance to Socialize | 06-25-2012
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1967 - New Town of Valencia dedicated; homes sell for $25,000 [story]


Photos by Kristin Ouchi

I had the opportunity to visit Central Park over weekend while running errands. I wanted to see the Fitness Center recently completed by Eagle Scout Drake Huogo and I had my two labs with me, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to check out Central Bark – the city’s off-lease dog park.

It was a nice Sunday afternoon and the park was overflowing with kids and adults playing soccer, baseball, throwing Frisbees and walking dogs. The parking lot was also full, but I was lucky to find an empty spot near the Fitness Center.

Drake did a great job on his Eagle Scout Project and I was happy to see families trying out the different bars and balance beams. It was a short walk around the park to find the fenced-off area called Central Bark.

The dog park is sectioned off into two areas: small dogs on the left and the larger ones on the right. My two Labradors, at 85 pounds each, headed to the right.

Living in a canyon area, my dogs are used to being off-leash. We run into other dogs every morning on our walks through the fields and creeks, so I’m pretty confident with their social skills. The only other big dog inside Central Bark that Sunday was a friendly looking Australian shepherd. The three dogs did their traditional sniff and off they went, running and playing.

Soon other “big” dogs came inside and it started looking like a dog’s Noah’s ark – two boxers, another Australian shepherd, two golden retrievers and two greyhounds.  Everyone was friendly enough, including the owners.

Some of the dog people told me they have been coming to the park since the city opened the off-leash area. When it first opened, they said, it was all green grass, picnic benches and plenty of watering areas. There weren’t any trees for shade, but the city soon put some in.

Five years later, the area is mostly dirt. Muddy dirt in some places. Patches of grass still grew but they were sad little patches. The little dog area is fairing a bit better. While the dogs didn’t seem to mind the dirt, the owners were a little disheartened. In fact, I’ve heard from other dog owners that they don’t like taking their dogs there anymore because they come home dirty and muddy.

I asked Rick Gould, the director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services for the city of Santa Clarita, if the city had any plans to re-sod the dog area as they often do throughout Central Park.

Dogs and grass don’t mix well, he said.

“You have to remember when we built the off-leash area it was part of the park, so there was plenty of grass,” Gould said. “We have considered renovating the turf, but between the feedback from the dog owners, the logistics of actually getting the renovation to work and the cost of the renovation, just to have it torn up again, re-establishing turf is not the best course of action or an appropriate use of our limited funds.”

Gould, a self-proclaimed dog lover himself, said the future may hold more off-leash areas and if and when that happens, the city can rotate the areas for refurbishing.

The city has done amazing things when it comes to recreation – the Aquatics Center, the Community Center, skate park, bike and walking paths and horse trails, to name a few. Dog owners like me treat their pets like members of the family and a nice, clean and green area for exercise is an added recreational bonus.

I plan to revisit Central Bark soon. My dogs are always game for a little social interaction. As for me, I’m happy socializing with the other dog lovers. Just remember, it’s rattlesnake season, so tread carefully.


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1 Comment

  1. Kyle Shannon says:

    I’ve been to a lot of dog parks and most of them have grass. Perhaps Mr. Gould could call some of his counterparts in other cities and ask them how they maintain the area.

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