By Nancy B Jones, Shadowridge Heights, Vista
Meeting with Deputy Mayor John Franklin on Sunday, a group of 20 Vista residents who have used the park expressed their disappointment with the off-leash hours approved for Buena Vista Park by the Vista City Council on August 22.
Before the new off-leash hours even took effect on September 22, plenty of concerns and considerations were expressed by those who use the park for hiking, biking, and walking their pets.
The change in leash laws was prompted by a petition with 77 signatures. The Parks & Recreation Commission endorsed the change, and the City Council members approved on a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Amanda Rigby opposed.
Garry Garretson expressed reservations about the new hours at the City Council meeting, which prompted Franklin to ask for a one-year review of the new hours.
In reaction to the new law, many park users contacted Franklin, Mayor Judy Ritter, City Council members, and the Parks & Recreation supervisor.
Franklin took a poll of NextDoor.com (online) participants and found that 65% of the 220 responses were not in favor of the morning and afternoon off-leash hours at the Buena Vista Park, also known as the Duck Pond, located in the Shadowridge area.
Concerns expressed by the meeting participants included ensuring safety for small children and for their dogs. Many of the participants want to be able to use the park without fear about loose dogs.
Many at the meeting reported attacks, injuries, and aggression by dogs that have prompted them to discontinue using the park.
Coaches and teachers are concerned about safety when Rancho Buena Vista High School cross country team, bike club, and science club use the park.
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Fourteen people at the meeting signed a petition asking to have the off-leash hours rescinded. All of them walk at the park, many of them bike at the park, and half of them walk their dogs at the park – on leashes.
In the discussion, some participants recommended an area on the south side of the park that would be suitable for a fenced off-leash area.
On Franklin’s request, the City Council will reconsider the off-leash hours at the City Council meeting starting at 5:30 pm Tuesday October 10.
Franklin vowed to make sure that any future proposed changes for parks or public areas would be posted on signs, and public meetings would be held to gather input from the public.