"Livermore is going to the dogs," quipped General Manager Tim Barry.

His comment introduced a report on dog parks in Livermore presented to the Livermore, Area Recreation and Park District (LARPD) Board last week.

Bruce Aizawa, Parks and Facilities manager, stated, that with its seven dog parks, Livermore offers more than any other city in the area. The average number of parks ranges from one to three.

In addition, in Livermore, dogs are allowed on leash at Sycamore Grove Park, Holdener Park and at Camp Shelly at Lake Tahoe.

Livermore dog parks range in size from one-third of am acre to 4.2 acres. "Providing parks for dogs increases the sense of community for dog owners," Aizawa stated. Plans are underway to provide additional benches, shaded areas, and obstacle apparatus. In the works are special events for dogs.

The first park was built at Max Baer Park with the assistance of veterinarian Martin Plone and the Del Valle Dog Club. The newest, Cayetano Park south of Las Positas College, is set to officially open in February.

The following are the locations of parks: Robertson Park, the largest at 4.2 acres, is located near the rodeo grounds. Bruno Canziano, just over an acre, can be found on Charlotte Way. Marlin Pound Park, off Bluebell Dr., offers separate areas for large and small dogs on nearly an acre of land. May Nissen Park, on Rincon, provides one-third of an acre where dogs can play. On Westminster Way, Vista Meadows Park includes nearly an acre.

WETLANDS

On an action item, the board authorized the General Manager to enter into a consultant agreement for the Garaventa Wetlands Preserve Enhancement Project in North Livermore.

The 21.4 acres of the preserve was deeded to LARPD in 1996 as part of a mitigation agreement for a residential development by Hal Porter Homes. It is designated as permanent open space. The District assumed stewardship of the property in 2001 after completion of the Mitigation and Monitoring Plan, which included creation of four new seasonal wetlands, bank stabilization, head cut repairs of Altamont Creek and revegetation of the off-channel detention storage area.

In August 1998, the Board accepted $11,400 in mitigation funding from Eden Housing for a 10-year maintenance program for maintaining mounds created for burrowing owls. Since 2003, LARPD has had plans but no clear source of funding to install fencing, boardwalks for public access and interpretive panels at the preserve. Now the prospect of an adjacent residential development would give the District a prospective opportunity for park funding. In addition, LARPD plans to submit a grant application to the Land and Water Conservation Fund or similar program for the project.

The agreement with AECOM would be for five years. It will include assisting the District in developing conceptual engineering designs and preparing a project description, filing a CEQA document, preparing a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Incidental Take Permit and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Letter of Concurrence. The consultant is expected to begin work on the environmental surveys in order to complete the CEQA review before the end of the year. The total project budget is proposed to be $600,000 and includes CEQA review.