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'Bark Park' in Talent opens on Saturday

TALENT — Guido, a 3-year-old terrier mix, will join other dogs and their owners for the opening of Talent's first dog park at 10 a.m. Saturday at 604 Talent Ave., next to the police department.

"He likes to be social," said Guido's owner, Nadine Mokdad, a member of the Talent Parks Commission. Mokdad occasionally took Guido to Ashland's dog park, a five-mile drive. On Saturday her kids will walk him to the park from the family home just a block away.

There will be treats for Guido and his friends and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

A dog park has been considered for nearly a decade. Former Commissioner Darby Stricker said it was requested by citizens at the first meeting she served at in 2002. In March 2010, the City Council approved a commission recommendation to locate the park at the site.

"People have been waiting for this dog park for a long time," said Commissioner Janet Chose. She plans to bring her Australian shepherd mix to the celebration.

Amenities at the fenced, 18,000-square-foot site include a double-gated entry, dog water station, dog waste cleanup bag dispenser, a perimeter track of decomposed granite and a few trees. Most of the area is planted in grass.

"It's too small to do separate areas for big and small dogs," said Chose. "We wanted to put in more trees but the summer is a bad time to put trees in. We want to wait until things fill in, then in the fall we want to look at more plantings."

The commission also hopes to construct a bench, a kiosk for bulletins and notices and a shelter for dog owners in the winter. Donations will be needed to fund the improvements.

Most of the preparation was done by the city's Public Works Department, and volunteers planted the trees. About $15,000 from system development charges assessed on new construction to create parks was used to transform the land.

The site had been a BMX bicycle track with about a dozen dirt jumps, but it had never been formally designated for that use, said City Planner Mark Knox.

Commissioners have recommended Talent Bark Park as a name from entries submitted in a contest held last year. The City Council will need to approve the name before a sign is erected.

Rules are posted at the parks. Among them, animals must be under control by the owners, waste must be picked up, dogs must be leashed when coming in and going out, and they must be vaccinated and licensed.

Parking for dog park users will be at Chuck Roberts Park on the other side of the police station. Hours of operation will be from 6 a.m. to sunset.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.