The following is a letter to the editor submitted by Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht. Links and emboldened key phrases are added as a service to our readers.
Here is a recap of our council efforts to build a dog park:
The city’s Community Services Commission identified 12 sites for a potential dog park. After public input and much analysis by the committee, the sites were narrowed down to three locations: land near the , undeveloped land behind and behind the community center. Sharon Cody lobbied to remove the Animal Services Center site and Frank Ury lobbied to remove the Alicia Park site – so over a period of time, Oso Viejo Park was approved by the council for construction of a dog park.
The neighbors surrounding the park formed an organization, and a neighborhood attorney threatened to bring legal action against the city. Consequently, the council voted to rescind its approval of a dog park at Oso Viejo.
Now since fiscal year 2006-2007, when the above mentioned three sites were chosen, the city’s discretionary reserves have fallen from about $34 million to under $25 million as of March. The city’s latest financial report shows that the Facilities Reserve Fund is about $7.7 million below target levels and we would need to increase our reserve level up to 69 percent to cover the shortfall.
Am I opposed to a dog park? No. In fact, I supported a dog park advocate's suggestion of rotating dog parks among some of the city’s parks. Additionally, I spent many hours traveling to dog parks around the county to see what amenities they offered to its patrons. Most of the parks had separate facilities for large and small dogs, but it was the Costa Mesa dog park that offered a separate park for older and disabled dogs. With thousands of pet owners in our city I am confidant that we will eventually have a dog park. Today's economic news is very troubling. The city council just approved making cuts to our contracted landscape services. As stated last year by former councilman John Paul Ledesma, the recession is longer and deeper than anyone expected. Since that time it has gotten worse.
I invite you to attend our city budget meetings this month and lobby us to figure out a way for a win-win solution for our resident’s pets.