On a hot, sunny day, the dusty Silver Lake Dog Park can seem more like a desert than an oasis for dogs and their owners. Three small structures made from thin metal posts and wood fail to provide much shelter, with many dogs slamming into the hard-to-see supports. “Mars looks like it has more shade than this place,” said Jen Byrne of the Silver Lake Dog Park Assoc. The need for more shade at the dog park prompted Byrne to seek help from the Recreation and Parks Department last year. Department officials agreed that more shade was needed. But providing shelter from the sun for Silver Lake dogs and residents has proven a bit more complicated than expected.
Recreation and Parks passed on Byrne’s idea to install canvas sails from existing fence posts. Instead, the department proposed using Quimby funds, which are generated by nearby development to pay for park improvements, to build a trio of metal and canvas “shade structures” across the dog park.
The new canopies would be supported by fewer posts (two instead of four) compared to existing shelters, which reduces the risk of dogs and people running into the columns. One of the new structures, covering about 20 square-feet, would be installed in the portion of the dog park reserved for small animals. The remaining two structures, including an extra large shelter, would rise from the main portion of the dog park.
“This, along with getting the DWP building that sits on the corner of the small dog painted, will finally start making the dog park look like a place that people would respect and enjoy,” Byrne said.
But the project involves building more than the shade structures. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, a pathway would have to be built from the entrance gate to the shade structures. “Therefore, that entrance will need to be redone to allow for wheelchair access (the step will have to be removed),” Byrne said via email
Then, after building permits were pulled for the shade structures, Recreation and Parks officials discovered the Silver Lake Dog Park was not connected to the adjacent Silver Lake Recreation Center, Byrne said. Instead, the dog park’s address indicated that it was part of the Silver Lake reservoirs property, which is a city cultural historic monument. That apparently triggered the need for further city review, including a possible public hearing, Byrne said.
“They have been working diligently to get the situation resolved,” Byrne said of city officials. “All for just three measly but much needed shade structures.”
The new shade structures were supposed to have been installed by the beginning of this summer, but, obviously, that did not happen. Still, Byrne said the additional shade and shelter will be worth the wait.
“People don’t realize that a dog park is not just for dogs,” Byrne said via email. “Stakeholders (ie: voters) and neighbors spend a lot of time there. I know people who have formed friendships, met their current spouses, gotten work – all from the dog park.”