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Oh, the benefits of a dog park, a place where your four-legged friends can legally run free in the city and of course socialize with other dogs, to name a few.

And while dog parks have popped up along the North Coast — in Fortuna, Eureka and Crescent City — dogs in Arcata are still living the leashed life. This is even with three years of ongoing efforts by The Arcata Dog Park Working Group.

In this LoCO Video Report we talk with the group, find out what the hold-up is, learn more about the ultimate goal and get to see some cute pooches at play.

The group has presented to the City Council multiple times, created a website, has a Facebook page, made bumper stickers and found the “perfect location.” But this location has a major road block.

Located on South I Street near the plaza and Highway 101, the Little Lakes property is large, easy to find and owned by the city — hence “the perfect location.” But it also has the presence of harmful chemical compounds known as dioxins at the site.

An earlier study with composite samples (which combines various samples and then tests them as a simple sample) showed toxicity levels were high.

“So we don’t know if that’s because there’s baseline high dioxins, which there might be, or whether there are some specific hot spots, or whether it’s high in a bunch of different locations,” said working group member Lynnette Chen. “All of which are going to change the cost of cleanup.”

So since the testing wasn’t comprehensive, the city has now hired Freshwater Environmental Services to conduct a new sampling plan. However, testing samples for dioxins can be expensive and the number called for in the sampling plan is still to be determined. According to Humboldt Baykeeper​, ​Jennifer Kalt, the cost to analyze one ​dioxin sample ​could run ​between $650 to $800​.​ So the city has applied for an EPA grant application to help cover costs and is expected to hear back in June. Then, there has to be approval from the regional water quality control board to move forward with testing.

​Arcata’s Director of Community Development, David Loya, says the first phase of sampling​​ is expected to cost $30,000 and will either clear the site, identify the area of contamination, or provide detail for a more extensive study​. ​

​”​We are hoping to take a first part of the first phase sampling for around $10​,000​, just to confirm or deny data reported from the mid 2000’s​,” he says. “This first phase would provide ​four​ sample points​ targeted in areas that are likely to have dioxin due to known previous land uses​.”​

​The city anticipates to have part one of the first phase underway this summer. ​

“Until then, nothing can be done with the property,” said Pamela Brown, of the working group. “because they need to know if those levels would be damaging for a dog park or if they’re not enough of a problem for a dog park but, for a day care center. So they need to find that out.”

Jeez! So why not choose a different area? Although other options are on the table, the working group wants a premiere-destination dog park that would not only serve the community but accommodate tourists traveling with their furry companions. The vision — 7 to 8 acres, a small and large dog area, restrooms, a dog bag dispenser and disposal station, water, lights, benches and a parking lot.

The group says they can’t nail down a price tag just yet since they don’t know if the city is even going to provide the site, but they feel confident they can raise the cash whatever the cost may be.

“We are poised and ready to roll when it comes to fundraising,” said Marni Lefevre of the working group and owner of Humboldt Pet Supply. “People come in everyday, what can we do, when can I give you some money.”

However the group says they can’t fund raise until they have site control. So now they’re pushing to for that, while the possible contamination is being tested. But regardless, the Arcata dog park working group has no plans of backing down. The group continues to ask the community for support by requesting those who want to see this dog park send letters or emails to the city of Arcata.