Healdsburg Dog Park Fans Rally Against Villa Relocation Plan

Parks and Rec subcommittee recommends relocation of Villa dog park.


The large dog park at the Villa Chanticleer has become a source of hot contention this week as the recommendation of a special subcommittee to relocate the dog park came to light through an .

The , which opposes the relocation, is rallying supporters to attend the Wednesday, July 11 meeting of the Healdsburg Parks and Recreation Commission, when a vote is expected regarding the subcommittee's recommendations.

More information is available on a special Facebook page, Friends of Healdsburg Dog Parks, created by Healdsburg resident and daughter Dani in recent weeks.

The Parks and Rec Commission meeting will be 6 p.m. at An agenda lists the Villa Chanticleer issues for "action."

“Regardless of what changes need to be made at the Villa Chanticleer, the dog park is not one of those that’s necessary or warranted,” said who owns a local pet sitting service and is one of the community leaders who helped establish dog parks in Healdsburg in the early 2000s.

In the “History of the Healdsburg Dog Parks,” Pietropaoli compiled the steps taken in the creation of both the small dog park in and the large dog park at the Villa.

“The creation of the Badger and Villa Dog Parks has, from the start, been a mutually beneficial collaboration between the City of Healdsburg and the Healdsburg Dog Park Committee,” Pietropaoli wrote.

“The Villa and Badger Dog Parks both continue to be extremely successful in providing safe environments and places of enjoyment for people and their dogs,” she continued.

The dog park relocation idea came up as part of a wider exploration of improvements needed at Villa Chanticleer, which has been faced with declining revenues from its catering and event rental operations as well as its bar service.

In addition to a decrease in the Villa's enterprise operations revenue, the , which holds the liquor license to operate the bar at the Villa, has also been faced with declining profits, according to Legion member and former Healdsburg fire Chief Bob Taylor.

A subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Commission was formed earlier this year to evaluate what could be done to ramp up profits and spice up business.

Taylor, who sat on the subcommittee, said he has experienced conflicts between wedding parties and animal lovers at the venue.

“If they want to turn the Villa into a high-end event center, the dog park is inappropriate,” said Taylor.

Other sources close to the subcommittee say the city has been approached by several local businesses that want to run the complex as a bar-restaurant and conference center. That option would likely lead to limits on community access to the popular location.

The was purchased in the mid-1950s with the original intent to make it a community center. Local veterans groups were to be given preference to the location and facilities.

Emily Heaton July 06, 2012 at 09:55 PM
There's a bar at the Villa? That's news to me.
Igor July 06, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Everyone .... please keep a open mind over this. There WILL continue to be a dog park ... no matter where it is located at. Picture this.....you pay $4000 for renting the facility....300 people for a wedding...they are all seated. The Video is running...the Bride arrives....the music starts playing.....then YAP YAP YAP down the hill..... all caught on tape and ruining the moment. Lets talk reasonable, and work forward.
Cecilia Pietropaoli July 07, 2012 at 04:57 AM
There are dogs that live all around the Villa. Any of them could bark at any given time. Dogs that are sitting in their backyards bored are much more likely to bark than those that are being exercised. Animal Control has never in the last 4 1/2 years received a single complaint about barking at the Villa.The acoustics inside the Villa are horrible,. The sound bouncing off the walls during indoor events effectively cancels out outside noise. In addition most outdoor weddings occur during the spring and summer between probably noon and 4PM. (The warmest/hottest times of the day) which are also the times that the dog park has the least amount of use and the dogs that are there are pretty lazy. i.e. NOT BARKING
Joanna July 07, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Go back to bed please.
Bob Taylor July 08, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Since I was the one that offered the suggestion on moving the dog park if the City wanted to upgrade the Villa and turn it into a profit center, let me offer the following comments 1. Thursday morning, July 5th, 2 large unleashed dogs were allowed to run through the parking lot while the owners were engaged in a lengthy conversation 2. On several occasions I have observed people walking or driving their dogs through the upper lot while the bridal party is walking from the garden to the Villa 3. As for noise, once you hear a dog fight in the park you will understand why a bride would be upset. Before everone jumps all over me, remember these were suggestions forwarded to help turn the Villa into a money making proposition. I personally feel that the Villa is a City park for the local citizens and should not be looked at as a cash cow by City management. The Villa is the only city park that the City expects to make money. Bob Taylor
Jim July 08, 2012 at 03:53 AM
My dogs love that park and it would be a shame to lose it. If the city wants to put a park closer to town, I'm good with throwing a few grand of my own money towards it. If the city doesn't want to find a replacement I'm just as good with spending the same money to be a pain.
Lizzardking's Rise July 08, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Yeah man, there is a bar, but it's not for commercial purposes as of yet. I distinctly remember that bar from my senior prom--it's beautiful, man. Kay, love dogs, have one myself, but as I see it this dog park needs to make like a sheep herder and get the flock out of here. This is the worst possible spot for a dog park. I cannot fathom going to my senior prom only to hear those dogs barking up a storm and permeating the atmosphere with their dog poop and farts while swinging with your sweeties on those lyrical porch swings. Formality does not merge with dogmatism, man. Finally, I find the people who take their dogs to dog parks to be lazy slackers, mans. Just a bunch of dudes not wanting to interact or exercise with their own dogs, they just take them there as an easy way out so they can socialize with other dog owners while getting drunk or stoned while their dogs run around naked as jay birds.. Dog Parks have become the new Woodstock, man and there certainly should not be one next to the Villa. I cannot believe that I am coming off as the conservative one here--this is freaky, man.
Gary Smith July 08, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Bob, Per #1, it would be easy to have dog park users agree to keep dogs ON-leash while in the parking lot. They would gladly self-enforce that. As for the neighbors, I can't say. Per #2, I don't know of any reason for a dog park person/dog to go through the top area. But the Villa could get a small folding sign (which they should have anyway) that would say something like "Event Guests Only" and set it out at the upper entrance before each event. The Villa shouldn't have any other traffic (dogs, cats, cars, or otherwise) going through someone's event. And #3, I don't think any normal noise from the dog park gets up to the Villa. But a dog fight, which owners stop immediately, might I'll grant you that. But is the totally minuscule odds of a dog fight and a quiet time in a wedding occurring simultaneously even once during any given year reason to toss out the park and all those who enjoy it every day? Also, I think the Villa should do a better job of marketing itself for weddings and other events to see if they can increase sales prior to taking significant other costly steps. Gary Smith
Emily Podolak July 10, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Have their been proposed alternative locations? I am with Jim, I dont want to lose the park, but their could be a more accessible location (where I could walk my dog to the park rather than driving her up the hill). And if it does relocate, where would the City find the funds to do so?
Cecilia Pietropaoli July 11, 2012 at 05:26 AM
The narrow plot of land next to the Natl. Guard Armory on Powell was suggested. It is too small, narrow and is a hillside that would be a hazard when wet. Also directly across the street from residences. The feds won't let us use it anyway. The other area was the flood basin behind the skate park. No parking. About 1/8 a mile to enter. Under water about 4 months of the year. Transients live on the railroad tracks next to it. No shade at all. Both sites were looked at 10 years ago and deemed unsuitable by the city then.. Nothing makes them any more suitable now. There was a suggestion of over were Saggio Hills will be built. But there is no Saggio Hills yet and I highly doubt they would want us, much less have to build their high end venture around a dog park ! Not there are no sites and no city money either.
Ellen Silge July 12, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I find it hard to imagine that the (not-all--that-close) proximity of a dog park to the Villa would cause people not to book weddings and other events there. It seems more reasonable that the dearth of desired income is related to the rate structure. As a frequent "frequenter" of the park since 2005, I've observed that when rental prices were raised precipitously a few years ago, for both locals and out-of-towners, nonprofits or privates, the "occupancy rate" plunged, and has not recovered much since then. Fewer bookings at higher rates has probably resulted in about the same income as before the rate hike, but not any increaswe. The planners should be very careful about striving for the "high end." Would the cost of "improvements" (such as relocating a very nice, heavily used dog park) be covered by any resulting income increases? And does the high-end concept fit what local residents/taxpayers need and can support? Or would a "medium nice" locale, at slightly lower rates than currently in effect, result in more satisfaction and more dollars from nonprofit groups, families staging quinceaneros, reunions, and the like?


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