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Penn Valley off-leash dog park reopens after expansion, improvements

Keri Brenner
Staff Writer
Jeri Stone of Penn Valley checks the progress of the renovations at Western Gateway Dog Park, Penn Valley.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union


Western Gateway Dog Park, inside 87-acre Western Gateway Park, 18560 Penn Valley Drive, Penn Valley

2003: Original dog park of 60 by 120 feet established at Western Gateway Park. Penn Valley Rotary Club provided labor and a $10,000 donation.

2007: Dog park relocated to current spot at the former site of an old horse arena at the park. Dog park and Latter Day Saints volunteers helped tear down the old horse fencing.

2008: Phase I construction done, including ground preparation, cement work and fencing. Bear Yuba Land Trust’s Al Salter Fund financed the $93,000 project. In addition, the park itself paid $70,000 to install a road and parking area for the dog park.

2013: Volunteers brought in water lines from the main park so the dogs would have drinking spigots and the dog park would have a sprinkler system.

2014: Board members elected for the newly named Friends of Western Gateway Dog Park.

2015: Phase II construction now under way to double the size of the dog park, add signage and concrete ADA ramps, ADA pathways to the ADA picnic tables in the newly fenced oak grove. Also included is renovating the dog yards, planting trees and adding more water lines. Bear Yuba Land Trust’s Al Salter Fund is again financing the $47,000 project. When completed, the dog park will be about 2 acres.

— Source: Jeri Stone, president, Friends of Western Gateway Dog Park

Jeri Stone lived in Penn Valley for 15 years before she ever discovered the off-leash dog park inside Western Gateway Park near her home.

“Nobody knew where it was,” said Stone, who has a dog named Lily.

Stone and others have always known they are free to walk their dogs with leashes inside the sprawling 87-acre Western Gateway Park, part of the Western Gateway Recreation and Park District established in the mid-’70s. But the off-leash section was somewhat of a best-kept secret — until lately.

Today, through the generosity of Bear Yuba Land Trust’s Al Salter Fund and the work of volunteers like Stone, the dog park is reopening after most of the work has been completed for a major expansion and renovation.

A $47,000 Phase II construction project financed by the land trust has doubled the size of the park to just over 2 acres, added numerous disabled access improvements, installed new signs, created a special protected area for small dogs and resurfaced the crusher-sand-and-gravel surface that makes it easy for dogs to run free.

“We’re just trying to make it as nice as possible,” said Stone, now president of the Friends of Western Gateway Dog Park. “It’s going to be real nice when it’s all done.”

As of 2014, Friends of Western Gateway Dog Park is the new official name for Gold Country Dog Park Association, the 501(c)3 nonprofit that oversees the facility.

“We wanted a name that specifically identified the dog park as being in Western Gateway Park,” Stone said.

The group is seeking donations for additional improvements that are not covered by the Bear Yuba Land Trust grant, Stone said.

“We need to repair the two broken ADA picnic tables in the new oak grove area,” she said. “The cost for new wood and materials is $514.72.”

Anyone wishing to send a check for donations may mail it to: Gold Country Dog Park Association, P.O. Box 5, Penn Valley, CA 95946.

Stone said she hopes small dog owners will return to the park now that they will have a protected area. In the past, large dogs would jump the fence into the small dog area, resulting in owners deciding not to bring their small dogs to the park.

“We’re trying to bring in the small dogs again,” she said.

Stone said contractors on the current Phase II construction include locally owned Hansen Brothers, Sun Fence and Earthshape Landscaping.

Hansen Brothers, Empire Fence and Creative Curbs, also locally owned businesses, were contractors on Phase I. Still to be completed are the tree planting, resurfacing the road and parking area and installing additional signs.

Stone also wants to put in a “hitching post” for owners to park their dogs while the owners are using the restroom.

“We want to thank the Bear Yuba Land Trust’s Al Salter Fund for their continued support, and also the Condon Dog Park volunteers for their helpful advice when we were looking to make these improvements,” Stone said. “They (the volunteers) were instrumental in guiding us; the many calls I made to them were always cheerfully answered.”

Western Gateway Recreation and Park District is one of the hybrids known as special districts, hundreds of which are established across the state.

In the case of Western Gateway Park, which comprises most of that special district, 80 acres are owned by Nevada County and the remaining 7 acres are owned by the park.

The park itself maintains a part-time office in the Buttermaker’s Cottage near the main park entrance on Penn Valley Drive.

The office, mainly an administrative center for the district’s governing board, is staffed from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The phone is 530-432-1990.

More information on the park is at http://www.westerngatewaypark.com. Also, more information on the dog park may be found at http://www.westerngatewaypark.com/dogpark.html

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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