Let slip the dogs …
MacKenzie Park at State and De la Vina Street is the site of a new off-leash dog area, the city of Santa Barbara’s Park and Recreation Department announced Monday.
The off-leash area is divided into two parts, with one for dogs smaller than 20 pounds and one for larger dogs.
Dogs must be leashed when outside the fenced-off area and dog waste must be picked up and thrown away in the proper bins. Dogs must also be vaccinated, have a valid license and an official tag. One person can only bring two dogs and children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. In addition, alcohol, food and glass bottles are not allowed.
“This a new type of park space for Santa Barbara,” Jill Zachary, director of parks and recreation, said in a news release. “We are thrilled to be able to offer the off-leash dog area, and we have been very encouraged by the community’s enthusiasm for this project. We look forward to seeing many happy dogs taking advantage of their new favorite place for exercise and socialization.”
The dog park is not the only improvement to MacKenzie Park. Other modifications include the demolition of a vacant building, modifying the sidewalks to make them more accessible, and dealing with asbestos and lead. The total cost of the renovations was $693,000, according to Capital Projects Supervisor George Thomson, with the money coming from the city’s general fund.
Mr. Thomson said an estimated 100 dogs and their owners are expected to use the off-leash dog area per week. The numbers came from their outreach and online surveys, but he cautioned that the numbers are just a guess as the area has just opened after construction started in Thanksgiving.
“Most people are going to be coming after work,” Mr. Thomson told the News-Press.
Hours for the area are 7 a.m. to sunset.
This was just the first phase for renovations to MacKenzie Park. Other improvements will be made later in the year, including making the restrooms fully accessible and increasing the number of toilets. Dugouts and the concession stand used by Santa Barbara Pony Baseball also will be improved, Mr. Thomson said.
People were already using the off-leash area the day it opened. Monica Curry and Thelma Maitland used the park in the early afternoon. Ms. Curry was dog-sitting Koa, a Korean mastiff rescue dog, for her daughter, and planned to come back to the park later in the day with Koa and her golden retriever, Ranger. She was excited and said it was a “great opportunity” for people and their dogs.
She did, however, point out that somebody did not pick up their dog’s waste, which is a violation of the dog park rules, but applauded “other responsible” people who cleaned it up. Despite that, she seemed optimistic about the dog park.
“I’m crazy about it. I’m ecstatic,” Ms. Curry said.
Ms. Maitland brought her French bulldog, Charlotte, from Villa La Cumbre Senior Housing.
“It’s wonderful,” Ms. Maitland told the News-Press.
She said it is good for seniors who are unable to go to other dog parks. She used to go to a dog park in Goleta, but its distance from parking was hard for her.
“I’ll be using this dog park a lot,” she said. Villa La Cumbre Senior Housing, where she resides, is also set to get a small area — “a little gate” — for their dogs to roam around off the leash and allow seniors to talk, Ms. Maitland said, but those plans have not been implemented yet.
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the MacKenzie Park off-leash area is scheduled for 11 a.m. July 11.