Dog owners are asking Georges River Council to backpedal on plans for a $1.5 million cycle path at Lower Gannons Park, Peakhurst which they fear will cause clashes between dogs and bike riders.
The council has started building a three-metre wide concrete pedestrian and cycle path which will encircle an off-lead dog area.
The Hurstville All Breeds Dog Training Club volunteers have been training dogs in the park for the past 34 years with dog-owners travelling from as far away as Campbelltown.
But they are concerned about the potential for conflict between cyclists and dog owners when the cycle path is built.
They say the cycle path which goes in a loop around the edge of the park will lead to a 40 per cent reduction in the dog off-lead area.
All Breeds Dog Training Club chief instructor Trish Christenson said the plans for the cycle path will make it harder for the dog trainers and may jeopardise the future of the club.
“How can you have a bike track running right through the middle of a dog training ground?” she said.
“Some dogs are reactive to bikes. It’s an off-lead park. What happens if a dog runs up to a bike and someone falls off and breaks a leg?
“There’s an old track that runs down one side of the park from Boatwright Avenue. We were hoping the council would use that track for the cycle path and double back on that side.
“But they are right in the centre of the dogs. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t think the council has thought about it. There will be accidents.”
The club is run by volunteers and charges only $50 a year membership and $3 a training session and pays the council rent of $1000 each season.
Club instructor Christie Rothwell said the cycle path faced massive community objection in 2012.
“As far as the community are aware the plans were thwarted and were not proceeding,” she said.
“The general community expected a new plan would have been put forward. The 2012 Masterplan shows the shared pedestrian and cycleway travelling around the exterior perimeter of the park.
“The current construction plans on the council’s website show that the pathway is not confined to the perimeter of the park.
“It is with great sadness that I expect that there will be a number of accidents involving dogs and bikes in Lower Gannons Park with the development of the cycleway going ahead.”
A Georges River Council spokeswoman said works at the park were consistent with the Gannons Park Landscape Masterplan adoped on April 4, 2012.
“The Gannons Park Revitalisation Project will see the construction of a three metre wide pedestrian and cycle path which will connect the upper and lower sections of the Park,” she said. “The area will continue to include a dedicated off-leash area for dogs, separated from the shared cycle/walking path by a vegetated swale.
“The former Hurstville Council undertook extensive community consultation on the Gannons Park Landscape Masterplan. The draft plan was publicly exhibited in late 2011 and was followed by a community meeting and feedback session in February 2012.”
Lucas Bryant takes his bullmastiff cross staffy, to the park for training with the club every weekend.
“My dog has improved ten-fold since he has had the care of the trainers. He is now socialising with puppies and other dogs.
“On Saturdays there can be up to 50 dogs of all kinds and ages in the off lead area of the park,” Mr Bryant said.
“It is the only club that gives $3 dog training sessions. Dogs learn to socialise and play off lead. I’ve found it really beneficial for my dog.
“It is weird that they council is building a cycle track around the off-leash dog area. Why not just stick the track to one side of the park with a waist-high fence and have a loop at the end.
“I don’t like the idea of a bike sweep down on my 39-kilo bullmastiff staffy cross.”
- An online petition calling on Georges River Council to save the dog off-lead area has been started at: www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-gannons-dog-park-peakhurst.html