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Boasting twice the size of its predecessor, an ‘unleashing ceremony’ was held to open the newest Laguna Woods dog park on Saturday, July 27. ‘A Place for Pause’ welcomed about 100 park-goers with their furry pets during the opening.

Sitting at 23301 Ridge Route Drive, this new park lies just west of the former park. According to a city staff report, this facility offers 9,655 square feet of play space that features 6,432 square feet of odor-resistant, antimicrobial turf.

David Cohen, chair of the Dog Park Advisory Committee, repeated to the crowd the mission statement of the space and said “Our dog park, A Place for Paws, P-A-W-S, is really a place for pause, P-A-U-S-E. For me it was about the people as much — if not more — than their dogs.” “Buster and Ellie will be happy wherever you take them. However, it’s the users who are of paramount importance,” he added.

For a better experience for everyone, this new park features double entry gates and a tri-level drinking fountain. Park-goers can also find dog-waste stations filled with complimentary dog bags. Benches, tables with umbrellas and portable seating are also accessible under the trees. To have better shade coverage, the trees planted here are larger than those planted at the previous park.

Rocks line the 6-foot wall between the golf course and park. They cover an infiltration trench, allowing liquids to drain and connect to a biowaste. This simple system helps actively remove pollutants.

According to Laguna Woods Mayor Cynthia Conners, the city spent about 18 months and $500,000 to complete phase one, despite particular setbacks. In October, its original contractor, Line Tech Contractors, Inc. left the project. It leads to the city’s pursuit for a new contractor and a surety. She also noted that the March’s rainstorms were also a challenge to the construction.

These two events caused delays to the projects for about two to three months, Conners estimated.

Noise complaints from a neighboring building, odor, and legal issues contributed to the relocation of the park. The original land that the dog park sat was not the city’s property.

Cohen remembers visiting the park one day in August 2017. She held leashes in hand, announcing the park’s closure the following week. Protests and a petition that collected 300 signatures within four days answered the park’s closure.

In November 2017, the city council voted to form a seven-member committee. The council appointed five of them, and two were appointed by the Laguna Woods Village Dog Club board of directors. This advisory committee is formed to provide input during the process of design and construction.

Golden Rain Foundation, Village Management Services, and the Laguna Woods Village Dog Club, including every public comment, played essential roles in completing this dog park. Cohen also noted how this city project evolved from a challenging issue to a successful and collaborative effort.

“This park is like a crown jewel of dog parks,” Conners said. “We are a really small city with a really small budget, there are not very many opportunities for us to really go first class. I think we did with this park.”

As for phase two of this project, the city allocated $200,000 in the 2019-2021 budget. It goes to a small dog park as a west-end add on. $10,000 was already from donors, and they were commemorated on the park’s Founders Wall.

Dog Club president Ron Drauden expressed his satisfaction with the crowd turnout and final product.

On July 29, dog owners used the facility throughout the 80-degree day.

Daily dog park-goer and Laguna Woods Village resident Nassrin Mojobi, 76, described the new park as a “lovely place.” She then noted that the walk from the parking lot needs at least two spaces for parking outside the gate.

Her co-members of her late-afternoon group also noted their concerns over the lack of shade and comfortable seats.

Later in the day, an unofficial circle dog owners was formed called ‘five o’clock social.’ Laguna Hills resident Kathy Karls said that its members have been meeting for nine years.
Pattee Preiss of Laguna Hills moved to the mobile home park across the street. She wanted to be close to the dog park. She has two dogs, Maltipoo, Lucy, and mutt-mix rescue, Malle. They get to socialize and exercise as Preiss makes the trip two times a day.

Flo Komlance, another group member, was worried that the lengthy, blacktop parking lot trek might have burned her cockapoo’s paws on their way to join the group. She noticed her pet Einstein dragging his feet on the way.

With all the constructive comments about the new facility, Karls said that coming to the park, whether to the new or old one, is always enjoyable.

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