The Open Space Foundation's plans to build a privately funded dog park at Camino Capistrano and Junipero Serra was called a "win-win" Tuesday by City Council members who said they'd be happy to save taxpayers' money.
"People have been waiting a long time for a dog park in this town," Mayor Sam Allevato told foundation members. "You have support from the council to move forward."
The design of the park—currently planned to have designated areas for both small and large dogs—will be overseen by the Open Space, Trails and Equestrian Commission and the Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Commission. The City Council will also need to approve a "site access license" agreement with the nonprofit Open Space Foundation, as the park will be built on public land.
"There’s interest on the part of the foundation to be associated with this," said Tim Neely, foundation member and San Juan Capistrano planning commissioner. "Delivering it would help us get our presence known to the community."
According to City Councilman Larry Kramer, the city has for the past several years intended to build a dog park. Last month, staffers said they would include the project in their application to the state for grant money—no longer a necessary step.
The catalyst for the foundation was a $10,000 gift from Capistrano Animal Rescue Effort, a donation that came with strings attached: The park must be named after beloved late veterinarian Joe Cortese.
"I would want to name it that despite the recommendation, just because of all the times he took in animals for free," said Councilwoman Laura Freese. "He didn’t care about pay, [just the] care and well-being of animals."
The foundation estimates that it will save the city $430,000 by building the dog park, though the city will be responsible for future ongoing maintenance. It will also waive building permit, inspection and water storage capacity charges.
When Councilman Derek Reeve asked Neely Tuesday about the foundation's ability to raise funds for the project, Neely responded: "We think that we have people within the industry that can contribute ... constructon projects" and "once it’s known that we have in essence an endorsement from the city to get this done, we think there are people we can approach."