City of Susanville delays decision on dog park

It’s not a matter of whether the city of Susanville is ready for its own dog park. The real question is where to put it. With two proposed locations –– both of which require shade, water and fencing –– only one may require a longer and more expensive process.

City staff are now looking into those costs in addition to an environmental assessment of one of the two dog park locations and will come back in two months to share the results with the city. If it proves feasible, those who live around one of those locations will get knocks on their doors from volunteers from the city to gather their thoughts on having a dog park in their neighborhood.

Susanville City Council, along with city staff and even community members have worked hard on the concept of reimagining parks throughout the city. One such park, the Skyline Multi-Use Park has been at the center of much discussion. Plans for the park have included a pump track, a disc golf course and even a dog park. The design at Skyline Park was ready to begin construction if approved and funded.

But recently, several community members have spoken about their opinions and concerns with having the dog park located so close to so much activity in one space, obstacles with the excavation of the site and complications with access to water infrastructure.  Residents, including the park’s private and anonymous donor expressed their dismay for the Skyline location and preference for a space on North Mesa Street near the senior living residence, Eskaton Lassen Manor.

At the council’s April 17 meeting –– when the park’s design was due to be approved, funded and begin construction –– some of those residents showed up to speak on the subject. One such resident, Mimi Rena, said the Mesa Street location, with its grassy and flat three-acres of land, full of already grown trees, would be an ideal location for the dog park.

“I know everybody wants to have everything all together and do it all at once and have a great place up there (at Skyline Park), but the spot is not suitable for a dog park,” said Rena. “It’s rocks. Rocks. You scrape the rocks off and there’s rocks underneath it. It’s very very windy, there’s no shade, there’s really no possibility of planting trees because they wouldn’t grow … so we would like to have you consider the Mesa Street site for the dog park.”

Rena mentioned to the council that Sam Glass, the incoming president of the Susanville Rotary Club, expressed his interest in the Mesa Street location as well.

Rena said that Glass, as a landscaper, had much of the equipment necessary and hoped the council would be open to volunteers assisting with projects for the city.

At the April 17 meeting, Lassen County Supervisor David Teeter, who is also the president-elect designee for Susanville Rotary, spoke on the subject of the group’s possible involvement with the proposed Mesa Street location, which is currently owned by Lassen County. Although not a formal offer, Rena and Teeter discussed the possibilities of a property switch, a lease of the property to the city for somewhere around $1, or however would seem the most convenient.

Teeter also mentioned that the Mesa Street location may have access to Susanville Rotary “private service dollars.” A representative of Lassen Humane Society also mentioned a similar possibility of financial support from their organization.

The council’s opinions on the subject varied.

Mayor Kevin Stafford said he liked the site and councilmember Brian Wilson said, though he may not be against the idea of the Mesa Street location as a dog park, the site might be more complicated than anticipated. Drawing from his experience, Wilson said that he didn’t see the Mesa Street location being built for a couple of years.

Wilson mentioned that the city might be looking at putting material on top on the ground at the Skyline location rather than digging. He also thought that the environmental assessment on the Mesa Street site would be expensive. Wilson anticipated the costs would be above the allotted budget, potentially more than $50,000.

Mayor pro team Joseph Franco personally thought the idea of two dog parks was perfectly acceptable, but also asked if funds for the dog park were specifically designated for the Skyline location.

Susanville Project Manager Quincy McCourt said the answer to Franco’s question was yes and no. While on the one hand it was indeed up to the discretion of the council, on the other the funds were promised to the north region neighborhood of the city.

Councilmember Mendy Schuster said her preference was with the private anonymous donor who was willing to put money directly into the Mesa Street location first.

Ultimately the council members decided that no matter what, there would be a dog park in Susanville, and soon.

But where it’s located or how many dog parks the council decides to move forward will depend on talks with the county, the potential assessment of cost and the willingness of those involved. The community could potentially know more in June.