Published October 28th, 2009
No Specific Plans Set for Rancho Laguna Park's 'Hairy' Situation
By Cristina Kim

Emotions ran high at Moraga's Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on October 20, 2009. Several residents, clad in turquoise shirts reading "Rancho Laguna Dogs," used every moment available during the public comment period to voice their displeasure over the possible reconfiguration of Rancho Laguna Park.
The issue, which reared its canine head last year, concerns the off-leash dog hours at Rancho Laguna Park. Currently, dogs are legally allowed to play off-leash from early morning to 9:00 A.M. and then from 4:00 P.M. to park closing. Contention arose when the safety of allowing off-leash dogs to interact with other park users, such as children and senior citizens, was questioned. Fearing an accident and subsequent litigation, last summer the Moraga Town Council recommended that park users and off-leash dogs be physically separated. While this may seem like an easy solution to some, Lamorinda residents who have been bringing their dogs to the park for years are wary of any major changes.
Moraga resident William Carman claims that Rancho Laguna Park and its off-leash hours are an important and cherished part of his life. "I am passionate about the current park use as is, and the community we have built at the park," explained Carman, adding that he fears implementing a smaller dog area will compromise the vibrant dog-owning community.
Other residents voiced fears that a large fence or enclosed area for dogs would destroy the park's natural beauty and make it a less functional park for those who have both families and dogs.
Seth Freeman, a park user and founder of the recently organized "Friends of Rancho Laguna Park Association," expressed his frustration with the lack of clarity concerning plans for the park, asserting the possibility that there may be a "specific agenda aimed at changing things that don't need to be changed." Karen Reed, Parks and Recreation Commissioner and chairperson of the Rancho Laguna subcommittee, feels that fear of change may be what is behind the strong sentiments concerning Rancho Laguna Park. Reed sympathized with the dog owners and assured them, "I am working towards a good change." However, Reed also acknowledged that "given funds, I foresee there will be some spatial barrier" placed between off-leash dogs and park users.
As of now there are no official plans for Rancho Laguna Park, but the Fields subcommittee, which evaluated all of the sports fields in Moraga including Rancho Laguna, reported that the Town's Measure WW monies will most likely not go toward improvements at Rancho Laguna but rather to the sports field at Camino Pablo Elementary School.
The next Moraga Park and Recreation Commission meeting will be on November 17, 2009.

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