Asphalt Trips Up Hardy Dog Park Renovation

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Patrons, residents and local businesses joined forces last August to raise over $13,000 to renovate dilapidated Hardy Dog Park, but the project has run into a tough obstacle: asphalt.

Before it became Oakland's first dog run, the area had been a Caltrans equipment yard. Three thousand square feet of the original asphalt still remain, damaging dogs' paws when they run and breaking teeth when they fetch. It's also a key contributor to the park's notorious mud puddles.

"The disabled and elderly have particular difficulty accessing the park," says Peter Lund, founder of Scenic Streets, the group leading the project. "Rainwater and hose runoff are deflected by the asphalt and create mud which can take months to evaporate in this shady space."

City planners determined that if the park was going to be renovated, it would need to be more ADA compliant. The old asphalt would need to be removed so a smooth gate-to-gate path could be installed. Upgraded gate latches would also be required. The additional cost would be $10,000 more than Scenic Streets had raised and the asphalt work must be completed before any other improvements could begin.

Ironically, City Hall does have an ADA budget on-hand, but Lund says his group was told the fundamental fixes Hardy needs don't qualify for funding. So even though the dog park had never been compliant, the community would need to pay to make it so if any other renovations were to proceed.

Organizers have been scrambling to find a solution. Caltrans still owns the land, but its contract with the city releases it of any responsibility. Councilman Dan Kalb's office has gotten involved and hopes to encourage one of the city's asphalt contractors to step in pro bono.

"It's been a bit frustrating" says Lund. "We're so close to bringing this popular amenity up to community standards.

"We also hope community members with ideas or resources will step forward with ideas and referrals. I can be reached by email via peter@scenicstreets.org."