Tahoe Unleashed Dog Park opens to much community satisfaction | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Unleashed Dog Park opens to much community satisfaction

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — Gone is the sight of dogs straining against their leashes, replaced by untethered canines running and playing on a enclosed patch of North Lake Tahoe land.

Tahoe Unleashed Dog Park, located in the North Tahoe Regional Park adjacent to the tennis courts, at 6600 Donner Road in Tahoe Vista, officially opened to canines and their owners Sunday afternoon.

"It is truly a dream come true for me to see (the dogs) off leash and safe," said Pam Berger, president of Dog Day in the Park, the nonprofit organization that spearheaded the park. "You know how you have these visions, and then all of a sudden it's a reality. It's like 'Oh my gosh, it happened. It really happened.'"

A vision that started four years ago, the dog park consists of two separate fenced play areas — one for small dogs (up to 25 pounds) and the other for large dogs (25 pounds or more) — on roughly an acre, she said.

"This is awesome," said Tahoe Vista resident Craig Werner, one of more than 50 people in attendance for the park's grand opening. "We finally have a safe place to bring dogs to run around free and socialize and have all kinds of doggie fun."

The dog park operates seven days a week from 7 a.m. to dusk — the same hours as North Tahoe Regional Park, with the exception of being closed in the event of snow, Berger said.

Recommended Stories For You

Anyone — residents and tourists — can use the free dog park, which was created in partnership with the North Tahoe Public Utility District.

"There are very few places to take your dog where you can unclip them off the leash and let them run and play," said Duane Whitelaw, NTPUD interim general manager/CEO. "(Where) they can socialize with other pets. … We call it a dog park, and it is, but it's also a dog owner's park. A place where you not only bring your dog, but come with friends and socialize."

On Sunday, dog owners could be seen inside the play areas talking with one another while keeping an eye on their pooches.

"It's always nice to have a place where dogs can socialize … and it can be a social place for dog owners," Werner said. "It's like having a playgroup for our kids."

Meanwhile, there are plans to expand the newly opened dog park, which cost Dog Day in the Park $25,000 to build, not including community donations in the form of time and materials.

Work on Phase II — dubbed the "Outback," which will feature more rugged terrain in an enclosed area where large and small dogs can mingle — is anticipated to start spring 2016, Berger said.

It's estimated fencing the roughly 1-acre Outback area will cost $15,000, Berger said. Depending on funds raised by Dog Day in the Park, Phase II could be complete as early as next summer.

Also, to take place next year is construction of an ADA path from the Regional Park's parking lot to Tahoe Unleased Dog Park, and new ADA compliant restrooms to replace those at the parking lot level near the ball fields.

Previously, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a roughly $232,000 park mitigation fee grant to the NTPUD.

A majority of those funds will go toward the restroom and pathway projects, but an exact figure cannot be given at this time since they have not gone out to bid, Whitelaw said.

The PUD will perform dog park maintenance, with funding coming from the Regional Park's general maintenance budget, Whitelaw said.

The district anticipates the park to be "pretty maintenance free," he said.

Park users are advised to pick up after their dog(s) and to not bring food and toys inside the park.

Beyond the park, dogs must be leashed inside the Regional Park and are allowed on trails, but prohibited from all athletic fields.

More information

What: Tahoe Unleashed Dog Park

Where: North Tahoe Regional Park, Tahoe Vista

Hours: 7 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week except in the event of snow

Online: tahoeunleashed.com