Pilot programs for off-leash fields and additions to make Burlingame more dog-friendly are wrapping up this week and were a success, city officials are saying.
In the recent past, the city has heard from the dog community that it’d like more options on city-owned land for dogs. Pilot programs at Washington Park field on Burlingame Avenue and Cuernavaca Park field for off-leash dogs hours were approved by the council for the school year only, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday and launched at the beginning of April. Additionally, at Bayside Dog Exercise Park, a dog wash and a new water fountain were installed outside the trail entrance of the park.
“The pilots are great,” said Recreation Supervisor Nicole Acquisti, who is in charge of the pilot programs. “We recently reached out to all the neighbors, so far nobody has had any complaints, which is nice.”
On May 14, a letter was sent to residents neighboring Cuernavaca, in the northwest corner of Burlingame, asking for any feedback about the pilot program.
“One thing being done in other cities like San Mateo is using ball fields [as off-leash areas] when they’re not in use,” Acquisti said. “We tried to give them (dog owners) options.”
The off-leash dog hours will cease in June and start back up in September at both parks. The City Council and the Parks and Recreation Department have been receiving emails from residents about off-leash hours during the summer at Cuernavaca. In the planning stages of the programs, the city’s Dog Park Task Force did discuss mornings during the summer months, but the challenge was that fields were used for summer camps and there was concern about the number of children in the parks during the summer. To ensure a successful pilot program, the task force recommended restricting the program to the school year until the impacts could be evaluated, such as how the owners treated the grass.
“We feel that the option to add modified summer hours is a possibility that needs be reviewed after the trial period concludes,” Acquisti said. “If approved by the council, it could go into effect for next summer.”
Dog owners like Burlingame’s George Tucker say they love the off-leash hours at the two parks.
“It’s very successful and everyone can walk their dogs over here (at Washington Park),” he said. “It beats Bayside.”
Councilmembers are also pleased with how the pilot programs and additions to Bayside are going.
“They seemed to have gone quite well,” said Councilman Jerry Deal. “The feedback we’re getting is ‘please continue.’”
Others like Councilwoman Ann Keighran want to wait until all of the community feedback comes back to the council before taking a stance on if the programs went well.
“My understanding is for Washington there were no issues reported,” she said. “I will have to wait and see what those results are [for Cuernavaca]. I know some people wanted it open for the summer, but we made it clear it was a pilot program during the school year and from the feedback we will see if there’s some flexibility for next summer.”
Owners are also asked to pick up after their dogs, stay off the infield, keep their dogs within the designated off-leash area, only bring dogs that are licensed and vaccinated, bring no more than two dogs per owner and dogs must be on-leash and in owner’s control upon entry and exit of the off-leash area.
There’s no meeting set up yet on deciding to add summer off-leash hours, but there should be a discussion in the near future, Deal said.
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