Fullerton’s popular Pooch Park will move from the Hunt Library area to Brea Dam Park. The Park where dogs are allowed to roam freely within fenced areas under owner supervision has been located near the Hunt Library on Basque Ave. since it was first opened in 2007. The Pooch Park relocation is not expected to take place this year but could begin as early as next year.
The Park is being moved because it is considered incompatible with the Hunt’s future use as a cultural center, and would impact parking spaces needed for patrons of the facility.
According to city of Fullerton staff member Ginger Ivey, who presented the park plan to the Parks & Recreation Commission on June 14, Brea Dam Park was chosen as the new site because it provides shade, has a large turf area, restrooms, adequate parking, and is easily accessible. This new location is also not near housing, minimizing noise impact from barking dogs.
The ¾-acre Brea Dam Park is located at 1700 N. Harbor Blvd., just east of the Brea Dam itself. It is part of the Brea Dam flood control basin owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps has approved the park’s proposed new use. Brea Dam Park has hosted City campouts and scout programs in the past, as well as the City’s snow day events.
During the public hearing to consider the proposed plan, Fullerton resident Jensen Hallstrom, who would himself be appointed to the Parks & Rec. Commission the following night by the City Council, voiced concerns about the impact of a dog park on wildlife in the Army Corp’s adjacent land. The slope to the park’s south has been designated as “environmentally sensitive” by the Corps and has already suffered from unauthorized trail building and tree cuts by renegade mountain bikers in recent months. Hallstrom requested that the City conduct an Environmental Impact Report to assess the effects of a dog park on endangered bird populations in the area, which, he pointed out, includes the historic Brea Creek.
Parks & Rec. staff responded that Brea Dam Park itself was not part of the designated environmentally sensitive area and was largely surrounded by the concrete dam. The Park relocation is considered exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because the new site is already a city park.
The staff report prepared for the June 14 agenda said that on a summer day hundreds of dogs might be found at the “extremely popular” park, used by residents and non-residents. According to the report, “During the height of the COVID-19 shut-down, the Department received as many calls requesting information on the Pooch Park re-opening as it did about playgrounds.” The Pooch Park has been operated by the volunteer Fullerton Dog Park Association since 2011.
The City is planning to spend up to $300,000 on the move, paid for primarily through a Per Capita grant from the state of California’s Natural Resources Agency, which recently awarded Fullerton $266,093. Staff said that Per Capita grants are sporadically occurring, this one from 2018’s Proposition 68, to fund park acquisition and improvements. Parks & Rec. considers the grant’s use for the dog park move appropriate because the Pooch Park serves residents throughout the City. Splitting the funds five ways would have left too little money for significant park projects in each of the five council districts, staff explained.
The Parks & Rec. Commission unanimously approved the Pooch Park move. The City may create a smaller dog park near the Hunt Library if there is public support for it, but it would not be directly on the Hunt property.
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