Oakmont dog owners seeking new play space
The Feb. 16 Chinese New Year –The Year of the Dog – has come a bit early to Oakmont, where a group of canine owners has renewed a campaign to build a dog park.
A dog club is being formed to search for an acceptable place for a park for both large and small dogs, said Gordon Freedman, one of the residents leading the effort. Ultimately the Oakmont Board of Directors would have to approve any new dog park on Oakmont property.
“We know that there are very few places to put a park that won’t be an issue with some home owners, Freedman said, foreseeing a controversial and possibly long battle. But he estimates there are as many as 500 dogs in the Oakmont community of 3,204 homes.
An earlier campaign to build a dog park in Oakmont went nowhere. The revived effort comes as use of the huge polo field near the entrance of to Wild Oak has been restricted so that the Trione family property owners can return it to its original equestrian purpose.
“Oakmont and Wild Oak residents will have access to the polo field only between 6 and 8 a.m. seven days a week,” said longtime Oakmont resident Paula Lewis, who serves as liaison between the polo field property owners and dog owners. She said the restriction not only applies to dogs but also people who use the field for personal exercise. “No Trespassing” signs will be posted, she said.
The owners plan to put a dirt track around the perimeter of the field, primarily for cooling down horses after they have been working in the arena, usually in the mornings or early evenings during the summer.
Dogs unfamiliar with horses can present a danger to equestrians and to themselves. Horses can be spooked and run off, riders can be thrown, and the dogs can be kicked – sometimes fatally – if they get too close to a horse’s hindquarters. There have been some close calls in the past, Lewis said, including one in recent weeks.
One of many issues to be resolved is whether Wild Oak residents would have access to an Oakmont dog park. The OVA Board typically is opposed to letting Wild Oak residents use its facilities, which are legally restricted to members and guests.
Lewis said Vic Trione and his wife, Karen, have offered to donate
$25,000 to Oakmont to go towards construction of a new dog facility that
hopefully would be open to Wild Oak residents.
“A lot of complicated things will have to be worked out,” Lewis said, “but dog owners are going to apply more pressure to the OVA Board to move quickly on getting a dog park.”
Meanwhile, Lewis urged dog owners to, “Please be respectful of the new hours of access to the polo field.”
“As members of this community Vic and Karen fully understand the
need for a gathering place for dogs and people to enjoy the outdoors,”
Lewis said in an email to dog owners who have been using the polo field.
“It is with regret this decision must be made for the safety of all.”
The property owners, Vic and Mark Trione, were the developers of Wild Oak. Their father, Henry Trione, was instrumental in the creation in 1971 of Annadel State Park, which now also bears his name – Trione-Annadel State Park. Years earlier, Trione had purchased a smaller parcel where the Wild Oak clubhouse and polo field are located. In his younger years he was avid horseman and polo player. He died in 2015 at the age of 94.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article did not include information about the Trione family's offer to donate money towards the construction of a new dog facility. That information was added to this online version after the Jan. 15 issue of the paper went to print.