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To leash or not to leash?

share the park3There is no doubt that San Diegans love their dogs and want the best possible environment for them, but here in Poway, that outdoor, off leash freedom is something that still hasn’t been permitted.

On Oct. 21, a protest was held in Silverset Park, a small community ballpark about 15 minutes from MC. The event, known as Share the Road, Share the Park, is significant to the residents in the area.

This demonstration was caused by the no-dog-off-leash policy enforced by the Parks and Recreation committee. The residents had been using the neighborhood park for more than ten years without major issues, and wanted to adjust the policy in order to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Joe Nalven, a resident of the Twin Peaks neighborhood, is a memberof the pro-dog group.

“About three years ago, the Parks Department began to enforce the no dogs off leash policy,” Nalven said, “We decided to go to the Parks & Recreation Committee to ask for [a] re-start [of] the off-leash area for dogs in the ballpark.”

The residents’ goal is to attain a few hours per day for the dogs to remain off leash, their main reason being the sense of neighborliness that is created by the park.

“Many of those in our community began to make friends because we walked our dogs and took the opportunity to socialize ourselves,”Nalven said, “ [we] get to know and look after each other.”

The residents of the neighborhood have been turned down twice by the Parks & Recreation Committee, once in May 2012 and again in October 2013. They then decided to approach and gain the backing of a lead member of the Poway City Council.

According to Robin Bettin, the Director of Community Services, the original causes for a proposed adjustment to the

off-leash policy were complaints from residents and the Park’s maintenance staff.

“Each time [the proposal was brought up] the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee requested that staff do  research on the issue,” Bettin said, “Based on that research, the Committee declined to bring forward the group’s request to the City Council.”

To come to a compromise, the Committee has considered adding dog pens to the park. Residents believe that there is a more cost efficient solution to this problem. They suggested the use of the infrequently used softball field, especially when the sport is out of season

“The softball league hardly used the area, but want to reserve it for potential use,” Nalven said, “We would like to use it in the morning when there are no softball teams playing on it and especially for the five or six months when there is no softball.”

Nalven added that the residents would be willing to help clean up at the end of each day, to assuade the fear of the dog feces causing illness among children. The City Council’s response stated that park staff believe that the wear and tear caused by the dogs will affect the condition of the field and create unsafe playing conditions.

The busy council agenda, three month research period used by Parks and Recreation, and the possibility of similar requests from neighboring parks, are all issues that prevent the Council from making aprompt decision.

“Based on the upcoming holidays and the current Council calendar, it [the final decision] may be in January,” Bettin said.

The Rancho Peñasquitos Park, located near MC, has the same basic rules as the Silverset Park located in Twin Peaks.

The park has enclosed areas for dogs to run in, and brings about the question of how community members will be affected by a change in the off leash rules.

The residents of Twin Peaks, and their dogs, will continue to have to use other facilities to unleash their dogs until the City Council comes to a decision.

About Priyanka Shreedar

Priyanka Shreedar
Priyanka is a senior and news editor for the MC SUN. She spends her time running long distances as a varsity cross country and track athlete, yet despite all her training, Priyanka has yet to conquer her mortal enemy: stairs.

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