Alhambra resident Danny Chau speaks limited English. But when he read on WorldJournal.com about a suggestion for a dog park near his home by New and Adams Avenues, he took action and walked into City Hall with his concerns. He met with Community Services and the Utility Department. He then sent out a petition in Chinese to his neighbors, and alerted them of a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting that would discuss the proposed dog park.
On Thursday, as a result of his actions, nearly 40 residents—most of them Chinese—showed up at the Joslyn Center at Story Park for the meeting.
"This is the best turnout we've had," said Parks and Rec Commissioner Daniel Hutchinson.
Martin Ray, Director of Community Services, said that it is in the city's Strategic Plan to put a dog park in Alhambra. The proposed site would be on 30,000 square feet of land where New Avenue and Ramona Street diverge. The estimated cost for fencing would be about $54,000. Due to the limited space, there are no plans to separate the park into two sections—one for small dogs and another for larger dogs.
Bonnie Kwan, who lives on New Avenue, said she was concerned with the health consequences of having a dog park so close to residential homes. "The pond at Almansor Park," she said, "the city is not cleaning it. So most likely the city is not going to clean up this dog park too."
Mary Hosokawa voiced similar concerns: "What are the health factors that will affect humans? Who's going to maintain the park?"
At a Feb. 2 City Council meeting, city staff said that the proposed dog park would be unstaffed. When asked at Thursday's meeting if there may be considerations of hiring staff, Ray stressed that nothing has been set in motion for the dog park, and that the plans are in its preliminary stages. "It's way too early to say we've decided on anything," said Ray.
Other residents were concerned about the additional traffic that the dog park would bring in.
"On New Avenue over there, if you have two cars parked, a third car would have to wait to pass. It's a narrow street," said Kwan, adding that this may hinder emergency vehicles.
In a letter written to the Parks and Rec Commission, Ki Pang and Teresa Li, both residents of the area, said the dog park could present a hazard to children and the elderly. "Small children and senior citizens have limited ability to defend themselves," they said. "We cannot predict whether the dogs that go to the dog park are friendly or vicious."
Chau said that, taken altogether, the dog park could negatively affect the neighborhood's reputation. "The main thing is that the property value will go down for all the nearby houses," said Chau. "The answer should be 'no' for a dog park on this location."
The Parks and Rec Commission, in its final statements, expressed their gratitude for the residents who turned out for the meeting.
"You've shown that you're concerned about your neighborhood," said Hutchinson.
Albert Lu, Vice President of the Parks and Rec Commission, said that he'd like to see if there are other sites that could be explored for the dog park. He added that he "would like to see how we will move forward with the concerns expressed by residents at the meeting."
Chau said that there were many more residents who were opposed to the dog park, but did not speak during the meeting because of a language barrier. "Today I speak for myself, and for my neighbors who do not speak English," said Chau.