Local dog lovers: Vote to bring Vacaville closer to a dog park

Originally published in The Vacaville Reporter on July 13, 2015 By Kimberly Fu.
Local dog lovers Vote to bring Vacaville closer to a dog park
A stampede of paws roared through Vacaville’s Centennial Park last week as a pack of doggies both small and large gave sniffs of approval for a new dog park there.
Tails wagging, they communicated an urgent need — for the community to step up and vote to help the city win the national “Bark for your Park” contest.
The achievement could snag the city between $25,000 to $100,000 for use toward construction of a park for canines.
Last day to vote is July 22.
“This is a big deal,” emphasized Jennifer Goode, a community services commissioner and mom to Ashes, a senior dog.
City Park Planner Hew Hesterman agreed.
“We’re in the running for $25,000 in funding,” he shared. “We could use the ‘Bark for your Park’ money.”
Vacaville made it to the Top 15 in the contest, sponsored by PetSafe. The city is competing in the “large community” category and as of late Monday afternoon, had close to 8,900 votes.
Competitors Watkinsville, Ga., had nearly 24,000; Moore, Okla., near 18,000; La Grange, Ga., more about 11,00; and Oswego, Ill., about 5,000.
Winners will be announced on or around July 31. The top vote-getter wins the $100,000 grand prize. Runners-up could win $25,000 each.
“We could also win the ‘heart’ category,” advised Hesterman, dad to labrador retrievers Halley, 10, and Buddy, 4, who eagerly mingled with neighboring pups. “That’s for the city that goes above and beyond with the campaign participation. We could win that if we go crazy with a final push.”
The community services commission recently gave a thumbs up to a dog park at Centennial Park and the city set aside 1.3 acres toward development. Plans call for two sections — one for big dogs, one for small ones. Wood chips would soften the dirt padding, making it safer and more comfortable for the dogs using the space. Estimated cost is $95,000.
The city has some money set aside for the park, the planner said, but more money is always helpful. Especially for extras such as turf, if the city decides to go that route.
Other positives, Goode said, are the park’s location (the other one is in Lagoon Valley) and proximity to the Nut Tree (shoppers can take a break with their pets).
Hesterman added that there will be no fee to enter or use the park and that there’s ample parking. A new trail is in the works, too, he said, so there will be a new path to traverse for humans and their dogs.
“This is going to be an attraction,” Goode pointed out. “And not just for Vacaville. Anyone can use it.”
William Sun chimed in that he’d love a park nearer to his home where his husky, Sofia, could roam.
“I think that’s great because we’re all on the north side of town,” he said.
Chris Lechuga, a Vacaville police detective and dad to 6-year-old Pomeranian Koala, seconded the sentiment.
“We don’t have a big yard,” he explained. “We would love it, a place close to home, a place to run around.”
Turns out Koala is an Instagram sensation with a following of nearly 10,000 and has been urging fans to vote.
“He’s been posting on his page,” Lechuga assured.
Judi Ruggiero’s bulldog has since passed away, but she said she wants a place for other dogs to run.
Staci Jones, mom to Rianne the Springer Spaniel, and Sherrie Keenan, mom to bulldogs Sophie and Bane, said they look forward to a park that separates dogs by sizes and thus will keep their canines safe.
The contest, the dog lovers hammered home, is so important for anyone with a canine. A win will fund the dog park, which will serve local dogs and also bring in visiting ones, whose humans may spend time and money in the city, which will then be reinvested in the city. It’s a win-win, they said.
“Everyone believes that Vacaville is a great place to live, work and play,” Goode said. “But it can be a great place to live, work and play for you and your dog.”
To vote twice a day for Vacaville, find out more at vacavillebarks.com.
Also, help is needed on Saturday, when the Bark for Vacaville team will host a community clean-up event at the dog park site at Centennial. Volunteers are needed from 8 a.m. to noon and a light breakfast and barbecue lunch will be provided. There will also be a question and answer session during lunch.
Volunteers are asked to wear boots and gloves and bring any garden tools they can spare.
For more information on the clean-up, send e-mails to hew.hesterman@cityofvacaville.com or jenngoode77@yahoo.com.
Local dog lovers Vote to bring Vacaville closer to a dog park1