Who’s letting all those dogs out?


It’s not even completed yet, but the newest park in Gilroy’s award-winning system is already going to the dogs.
Make that, dogs’ park.
The new Hecker Pass Neighborhood Park, located at the far reaches of west Third Street along Uvas Creek, will be the first in the city’s history to be built with an off-leash dog park in the mix, according to Claudia Moran Garcia, a civil engineer with the city’s engineering department.
Although originally scheduled for opening at the end of July, the wet winter delayed the start of construction, according to Moran Garcia.
A late August opening is now expected but a date has not yet been decided, she said.
Besides the fenced dog park, other amenities will include a special children’s playground with separate play structures for 2-to 5-year-olds and for 5-to 12-year-olds, a turf play area, off-street parking and lots of landscaping.
Workers from Creative Builders this week began installation of the latest in playground equipment and a landscape designer checked the fine points of a winding warren of concrete pathways that connect the park to sidewalks along Third Street and the Uvas Creek Trail.
The park abuts a portion of the trail, a meandering ribbon of asphalt enjoyed by cyclists, walkers and joggers. Most of the trail runs atop the levee that protects neighborhoods from flooding that used to be a nearly annual event along the creek and created a broad and verdant floodplain. The trail has lengthened with the city’s residential growth, and now stretches a couple of miles, from the south side sports park off Monterey Road across from the Hilton Park Inn, roughly following Uvas Creek, almost to the family theme park at the city’s western edge where plans call for it to end.
When completed, the park will have been part of a “long design-development process,” according to Bill Headley, the city’s veteran Parks and Landscape Supervisor.
Indeed, conceptual plans were approved by the city in 2008 as part of a much larger development blueprint for the area called the Hecker Pass Specific Plan, he said.
The 3-acre park is being constructed at no cost to the city by Meritage Homes as part of its sprawling residential development community on formerly agricultural land on the north side of the creek, roughly between Santa Teresa Boulevard to the east and the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park to the west.
Already, more than 200 large, densely packed single-family homes have been built and occupied along the once pastoral entranceway to the city.
More are under construction along with planned intersections with the main roadway, also known as Highway 152, which drivers used to be able to navigate unfettered by traffic controls all the way to Watsonville.
According to the city’s adopted specific plan, the neighborhood park was to be built and dedicated to the city in the midst of Meritage’s phased residential development but prior to the issuance of a building permit for the 250th home.
Once the park is completed, the agreement calls for additional building permits to be issued to the developer, with homes expected to crowd the former floodplain all the way to the theme park near the intersection of Hecker Pass Highway and Burchell road, just west of the Elks Lodge and Gilroy Golf Course.