The City intended to use $266,093 State grant funds for the Fullerton Pooch Park Relocation project, but the City has now put this project on hold. At the Tuesday, October 17 City Council meeting, the staff intends to request to redirect the Pooch Park Relocation grant funds to the Acacia Park renovation project so that the City can use the funds before the performance period ends.
The current Pooch Park began in June 2007 and is now open six days a week from 7 am to 8 pm. It is city-managed and operated by members of the Fullerton Dog Park Foundation. They were asked to relocate as the current site is part of the Hunt Branch Library revitalization plan. The Brea Dam Park was the preferred site as a central location that was not close to residential housing, as the noise of dogs barking could be a concern. It is also a flat area with an existing parking lot. Lighting expenses are seen as necessary so residents can use the park after school and after work.
On November 2, 2020, City Council approved allocating the State’s grant funds for the Fullerton Pooch Park Relocation project by adopting Resolution No. 2020-96. The State’s program is a non-competitive grant that provides funding to all cities with an amount based on each City’s population for park improvements and acquisition.
The City of Fullerton received and allocated the grant funds to the Pooch Park Relocation project, which planned to relocate the City dog park from Hunt Branch Park to the Brea Dam Park. The new Pooch Park design required accessible walkways, expensive upgraded steel chain link fencing, solar lighting, and shade structures costing $765,696. Replacement of the existing bridge will add an additional $166,874.
Parks and Rec Commissioners Wehn stated that he had voted to proceed with the original estimate of $250,000-$300,000 with a grant from ARPA but was concerned about cost increases as proposed.
On March 21, 2023, the City Council directed staff to review and potentially modify the scope of the Pooch Park Relocation project to reduce costs and finalize approvals with the US Army Corps of Engineers. But the delay meant the City would not complete the Pooch Park project within the grant performance period. The City needs to allocate grant funds to a park project planned for completion within the required performance period.
At the City Council meeting on October 17, 2023, the staff intends to request approval to transfer the grant funds from the Pooch Park Relocation project to the Acacia Park Renovation project, which the City will be able to complete within the grant performance period as the park is already under construction and has the play equipment waiting for installation. It is projected to be complete by August 2024.
The Acacia Park renovation project includes playground replacement, walkway replacements to meet ADA requirements, irrigation modifications, turf repair, site lighting, plumbing improvements for a new drinking fountain, and planting new trees. Meanwhile in the South part of town, Independence and Union Pacific Park have been fenced off to the public for years.
Why did the Parks and Recreation Department choose to divert funds to Acacia Park when other parks are still closed to the public?
According to staff reports the grant funds would replace an equivalent amount of Park Dwelling funds, which the City would return to the Park Dwelling fund balance for other projects. Will the Park Dwelling funds be used for the Pooch Park relocation, or will the City use them for the proposed renovations at Independence Park, or possibly the reopening of the Union Pacific Park that has remained closed to the public since 2009?
According to the city website, Fullerton has 53 parks, including nature preserves and open space, 13 park facilities and 30 miles of trails. Most parks and trails are north of Commonwealth. Many areas south of Commonwealth are considered disadvantaged communities and park poor. There are only 15 parks and one trail south of Commonwealth with an average of 1.3-acres of park land per 1,000 people as opposed to over six-acres of park land per 1,000 people and 29 of the 30 miles of trails north of Commonwealth.
The City has approximately $343,000 in unallocated Park Dwelling funds and projects additional revenue in the next two fiscal years when new housing developments start construction. Funding for capital projects from Fiscal Year 2021-22 to 2023-24 totaled approximately $40.4 million. Of that, $6.2 million came from Park Dwelling Funds and $32.7 million came from grant funds with the remaining $1.58 million in other funds (Brea Dam, ARPA, donations). The City used most of the grant funding for the acquisition of West Coyote Hills. The following table lists projects with their funding sources: