The Tri-City Fence Co. crew has finished its contract, and the new fence stands straight and true along the line that Parks management dictated. The fence looks and feels strong; the posts are anchored in concrete two feet deep. Hats off to Tri-City workers for a fast and professional performance.
As the contract specified (here’s a copy of it), the fence is four feet tall with a top rail, and allows a gap of about six inches at the bottom for small wildlife like squirrels and rabbits to scuttle through. On the upper slope behind the fennel grove the gap on the bottom is more like a foot, but that was unavoidable and should not be a problem as it’s a low traffic area.
The height of the fence is the minimum that the American Kennel Club recommends. It is less than the five to seven feet recommended by the Stanton Foundation. But given the scenic setting, the more modest height blends in quietly and does not disrupt any sight lines.
One of the best features of the layout is that it shuts off the annoying and much abused dirt track that bisects the nature area on the north side. The occasional maintenance truck that churned up this dirt trail after a rainfall gouged muddy tracks that took months to heal. Thanks to the new fence, it’s no longer possible to get to the dog park from the north side paved perimeter trail via this dirt road. This feature alone should bring more peace and quiet to the nature area. Here’s the view of this former access road today:
But, as if to cancel out this positive quality, the fence leaves a four-foot gap without a gate at a social path — never part of Parks design and useless to maintenance crews — that leads into the heart of the nature area. This particular path has been a key access point for that small minority of dog owners who habitually disregard the dog park boundary and treat the nature area as their dog’s playground, digging sandbox, hunting preserve, and toilet. That access point now gets added prominence by virtue of the new gap, the only break in the 900-foot fence. Here’s what it looks like:
The only signage here is one of the old generation brown fiberglass slabs that says “LEAVING OFF LEASH AREA” — as if it were OK to go into this area with a dog on leash. That sign needs to go This gap urgently needs a swinging gate and a prominent sign that says words to the effect of KEEP OUT — AREA CLOSED — MINIMUM FINE $100. Well, the fence just went up, so hopefully a gate and good signage are in the pipeline.
Then there’s the matter of the fence’s western boundary. The fence stops like a car that ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. I paced off the distance between the westernmost fence post and the gravel access road on the west boundary of the nature area. The fence is about 200 feet too short. It’s about 100 feet too short on the southeastern end, also. But I want to be charitable here and not overly critical. Three quarters of a fence is way better than none.
The fence comes too late to affect the stress level of the Burrowing Owl that chose the nature area as its seasonal home this winter. Parks management couldn’t do anything about the bird-hunting raptors or the annoying crows that occasionally harassed the endangered little ground-dwelling owl. But the loose dogs that roamed down from the ridge and invaded the bird’s security perimeter on a daily basis formed a source of mortal stress that lay within management’s power to abate. The new fence, with its shortcomings, is a welcome sign that Parks management has seen and accepted its stewardship responsibility. I offer my appreciation to those whose signatures underwrote the fence contract, namely Ali Endress, Waterfront Manager, and D. Williams-Ridley, City Manager.