One of the ideas I’ve been “shopping around” to my neighbors and the city staff as a member of the Park Avenue District Advisory Committee is what I’ve coined “The Target Bullseye Dog run” named after the retail-stores’ white bull terrier mascot. The dilapidated, littered & tagged strip under the 40th St./Shellmound bridge sits adjacent to Target along Beach Street at Halleck. If you’re familiar with this pedestrian pathway for getting to Target (and a waaay safer bike route for getting to Mandela Parkway than using the Horton bike boulevard in my opinion), then you’re aware of its current homeless occupation and staging area for the train-jumping “Traveler” groups. Why not reclaim this area for the neighborhood (and bicyclists) and provide an amenity to residents & neighboring small businesses that is sorely needed? The city in currently scoping a 5-year capital improvement plan and we’ve managed to get this tacked onto this extensive list with thanks to Planning Director Charlie Bryant and Councilmember Nora Davis whom both saw the merit in this.
Last August we wondered out loud wether Emeryville was “Dog-friendly” and the results of the poll garnered a 53% “No” vote. Most of this was directed at the fact that despite a large pet population, there are relatively few city amenities for dogs. We’re hoping to make a dent in that.
Unlike the CalTrans-controlled homeless camp land to the north of Target, this land is undevelopable. Technically, the proposed area resides in the appropriately named Oakland “Dogtown” neighborhood but is maintained & police-patrolled by Emeryville (as is Target). This may create a bit of red-tape, but city planning didn’t think this was a major hurdle. I ultimately see it as a benefit because we could recruit the passionate Oakland Dog-Owners Group “ODOG” to help us pursue this … and recruit more pockets & volunteers to contribute to it. This could even provide a vital shared link between our communities. We could demonstrate how members of neighboring communities can work together for mutually beneficial projects and not just within our own borders. Even the most ardent, anti-dog NIMBYies would take dogs over squatters (I think?). Us dog owners aren’t picky. We’ll take the city’s scraps.
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Some figures about Dogs & Dog Parks:
• 39% of US Households own at least one dog (Probably even higher in Emeryville because of the lack of Family housing).
• Dog Parks contribute to both individual and public health as well as neighborhood vitality.
• Dog Park users contribute to safer streets by providing continuous “eyes on the street”.
• Dog parks provide a community meeting space and an opportunity to socialize and thus strengthen community.
This might sound idealist, but it seems Target might benefit from not being bookended by homeless camps. Perhaps it would make a statement that they do in fact care for their community by helping an adjacent area live a more constructive purpose within the community (and could maybe use some good PR after their recent massive security breach). Target has a reputation as a good corporate citizen and providing their patrons a dog park would do nothing but build on this. Perhaps Target might dole over a sliver of that 5 percent of their profit that they provide our communities that I keep hearing about … but cannot determine where it goes. They could also include this on their security patrol.
The project is listed amongst the cities “unfunded” discretionary projects. The estimated $50K is a pittance compared with projects like the 4.2 million Transit Center … with arguably more public benefit. Small Donations by individuals & neighboring businesses that would realize a direct benefit such as the adjacent Happy Hound Doggy Daycare & Pet Club could be solicited. Would you be willing to contribute?
Plenty of other communities that have reclaimed these wasteland areas underneath overpasses and brought them back into a useful state including:
If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right. Let’s not just throw up a chain-link fence, some AstroTurf & poo-bags … let’s make this “E’ville”.
What makes a signature Dog Run?
- Public art or mural
- Decorative iron fencing, benches & garbage cans
- Water faucet
- Separate large & small dog spaces
What’s Next? We’ve managed to get the idea on the list of 76 preliminary recommendations (we’re #21) and The Parks & Recreation Committee are somewhat supporting that the city move forward with it (Thank you!) … but have alluded that some matching funds may be in order (Kickstarter Campaign?). The project meets the criteria outlined in the city objectives of the creation of new parks and being Family-Friendly.
Watch the Park & Rec Community meeting on the EPOA YouTube Channel (58:00 mark):
[youtube id=”xZJGHMuYv5Q” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Like this idea? Is it at least an upgrade over the existing use of this space? Email Emeryville Mayor Jac Asher or Oakland District 3 Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney and let them know you support it! There will be a community workshop to discuss the CIP plan followed by a special City Council meeting on May 6th where the final plan is expected to be adopted. Call, Email, Show-up!
Oh, can I say one more thing? PLEASE pick-up after your dog. The reputation of Dog-owners as a whole are intertwined. Every time someone steps in or even sees the byproduct of your laziness, we’ve lost another supporter. Thanks!