A city dog park in Bishop took another paw forward Monday evening, when the City Council unanimously approved a Negative Declaration Environmental Impact, further clearing the way for the City to construct and maintain a dog park with off-leash activity within Bishop City Park.
Inyo County residents have discussed the feasibility of a fenced off- leash site as part of the city park dating back roughly six years. Following the City Council’s approval of the original Dogs in Bishop’s City Park’s Master Plan brought to the Parks and Recreation Commission by Nancy Hardy of Bona Fide Dog Training and Eastern Sierra Dog Rescue, the Bishop Dog Park Committee was formed. A series of public meetings were held to discuss financing for the Dog Park project, and a revised master plan was developed for Bishop City Park itself.
The proposed 49,500 square-foot dog park is located east of the U.S. Forest Service – White Mountain Ranger District office, west of Spruce St., south of Yaney St. and north of Park Ave, situated in what is now open space. A portion of Bishop Creek runs adjacent to the area, but is not currently slated for inclusion in the designated dog park.
Inland-salt grass would be used for ground cover, and non-native grass species may also be planted if extended use of the area shows that inland-salt grass is not providing the ground cover needed. The staff report said it is unknown at this time if that would be needed, since inland-salt grass appears to hold up very well to use by horses and cattle at the Tri-County Fairgrounds.
No cultural or historic sites occur within the park area, but the site has scenic views of both the Sierra Nevada and White Mountain ranges. There are no existing structures on the site but development is expected to lead to construction of at least one shade structure, water fountains and several benches. Waste stations would also be required throughout the Dog Park. Rule signs would be placed at the Dog Park, and entrance and reminder rule signage would be conspicuously placed at strategic points.
The Dog Park would be constructed in phases as funding becomes available. Phase 1 involves approximately 620 feet of exterior fencing, three external gates, at least one water fountain, rule signs, poop bag dispensers and trash cans, trees and irrigation. Upon completion of Phase 1, the Dog Park could be opened for public use, pending final inspection.
Phase 2 is dependent upon additional funding; this development would occur as time and funding permits. On the to-do list: add more benches, shade structure, trees, water fountains a concrete entrance, internal fencing to create small dog and training areas, more ground cover (with vegetation or decomposed granite). Also on the drawing boards: landscaping surrounding the exterior fence, to create a visual barrier both for dogs, as well as cars entering the parking lot. Ongoing improvements might include sod, more shade trees, and permanent canine agility equipment.
Several youth soccer fields and baseball fields occur just east of the Dog Park location, and supporters point to easy access to U.S. 395, which is also Main Street through the city, as being a major amenity for both locals and visitors. The staff report noted that, “The development of a Dog Park would increase the use of this portion of the Bishop City Park, which would mean an increase in traffic and vehicle use,” with morning and evening peak hours anticipated, as well as all-day use on weekends.
More use is expected during the summer and fall months when visitors to the area are at their peak. Winter use might be lower with mostly residents using the Dog Park. These disturbances would not be any different from the use that occurs now within the City Park, only that dogs would be concentrated in one, enclosed, safe area.
Thanks to fundraising activities and private donors, Phase I is fully funded. According to the Blogging Bishop website, the Bishop Dog Park Committee’s next goal is to raise $2,000 for Phase 2 during next month’s Earth Day Event in Bishop’s City Park on Saturday, April 21. Owners and dogs are welcome to tour the area (on-leash until fenced) and join in a costume parade, grooming, wellness checks, raffles and other activities planned.
In other Council news, lawmakers approved a temporary waiving of the city’s hiring freeze. The first waiver allows hiring for a 10-week intern position in the Public Works department, funded out of the water and sewer budgets. The second waiver allows the Community Services Department to hire five part-time seasonal park helpers and 20 aquatics personnel. And finally, Dave Stottlemyre and Susan Cullen were elected Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem of the Council, respectively.