How far can a 12-year-old baseball player hit a home run?
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And would children playing baseball games on nearby fields be distracted by the antics of dogs off leash at an adjacent site?
These are just some of the questions being asked as Oceanside city officials ponder the possibility of converting a vacant section of Ron Ortega Park into a place where dogs can run free.
Oceanside is the largest city in North County, but the only one in its environs without a dog park.
There are dog parks in the nearby cities of Vista, Carlsbad and Encinitas.
But Oceanside hasn’t had one since the local humane society closed its in 2018, so it’s about time, says Kymberly Corbin, an associate engineer with the city.
Corbin is the manager of the Ron Ortega dog park proposal.
“We are way behind in offering our residents dog parks,” Corbin said in an interview after she chaired a public workshop on the subject Nov. 8.
She is coordinating collection of surveys, which can be turned in until Dec. 15.
The City Council already has spent just under $500,000 for design consultants, KTUA Landscape Architecture and Planning of San Diego. It hasn’t allocated money for construction, estimated, Corbin said, at “well under $1 million,” although additional amenities could raise the price.
Two options were shown at the workshop. In one, the space for large dogs is much larger than the one for small dogs. In the other, the territories are nearly equal in size.
Proposed is use of 2.8 acres on the property bounded by Maxson Street on the north, Barnes Street on the east, Country Club Lane on the south and Brooks Street on the west. It is adjacent to the Oceanside Boys & Girls Club and the baseball diamonds. The staff report noted its easy access from Interstate 5.
It is an old landfill, closed in 1970, and there are vents for methane gas to the side.
Because of the landfill, there are a lot of regulatory agencies involved and rules such as not overwatering.
The half-dozen people who spoke at the workshop were neither ardent supporters nor staunch opponents of the project. They brought up questions.
One speaker said the park has become a mecca for transients and homeless people. The staff report mentions it gets little daytime use, with sports fields primarily hosting evening activities.
But what, it asked, if dogs nearby in the park distract youthful athletes.
Then there was the question of a mighty home run. Could a ball travel from the field into the dog park?
When Corbin was told the upper age limit for Little League is 12, she said a child that young probably couldn’t hit a homer into the dog park, but she wondered if a 14 year-old in some other baseball game might.
One speaker worried about safety because “there are a lot of coyotes in our neighborhood.”
Another speaker thought the proposed dog park should be more interesting for both canines and humans like one in South Vista where dogs can run through woodsy areas.
Doggy activity equipment is one thing under consideration for the Oceanside park.
Primarily, it would have accessible walkways, lighting, fencing, benches, fountains and shade structures (either a metal roof or a “sail”).
No improvements to existing restrooms, parking or ballfields are planned as part of this project. Corbin told a speaker complaining about their condition to talk to council members.
The project does not affect an area where pelota mixteca, a ball game indigenous to the Mexican state of Oaxaca is played — a fact applauded by one speaker.
If approved, construction is expected late next year.
The surveys can be accessed online or in hard-copy version, and there’s a QR code for tech savvy to scan.
Currently, petitions are being circulated for a dog beach in Oceanside, but Corbin said it would be better to learn from a dog park before attempting to manage a dog beach.
Sherman is a freelance columnist. Contact her at [email protected].