Fans rally for Healdsburg dog park

  • Rob Johnson rests with his dog Shasta at the Villa Chanticleer Dog Park in Healdsburg on Monday.

Dog owners in Healdsburg are planning to show up Wednesday at City Hall to make it clear they want to keep open a popular dog park on Fitch Mountain.

The 1?-acre Villa dog park, described as the largest enclosed dog park in Sonoma County, was mentioned for possible closure in a long list of "improvement recommendations" for the nearby city-owned Villa Chanticleer.

But city officials on Monday insisted there are no plans to do anything with the dog park.

"Are we looking to close the dog park? Absolutely not," said Assistant City Manager David Mickaelian. "The dog park is an important part of Healdsburg."

"We would not contemplate any type of movement, any significant change, without consulting and working with the public who use it," he said.

Dog owners were alarmed when they found out recently that the dog park relocation was on a long list of potential changes for the Villa Chanticleer, which for generations has served as a setting for weddings, high school proms, Christmas parties and other events.

The community center has been losing money for years, and a subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Commission has been studying how to make it more financially viable.

A three-page list with about 80 recommendations had several pertaining to the adjacent dog park, which is part of city property on Fitch Mountain.

It mentioned a "lack of compatibility between Villa wedding and event use and Dog Park use; dogs walk through the Villa; dogs bark during ceremonies and events — disruptive."

It suggested creating a group picnic area where the dog park is, and relocating the dog park to the National Guard Armory, or the skate park.

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