With his pink tongue hanging out of his mouth, Toby, a furry, honey-colored Pomeranian, zipped past his owner as a small pack of dogs followed close behind.
“It’s the first time he’s been out without a leash,” said Chad Yoshida, a 30-year-old midtown resident. “He’s a social butterfly.”
Toby and his four-legged friends were among the first to roam free at the Truitt Bark Park during its grand opening Saturday morning. Located at the intersection of 19th and Q streets, the new park hosted about 140 people and about half as many dogs at the start of the celebration.
Dog owners split into two groups, with separate enclosed areas for small and large canines. Instead of grass, decomposed granite covered the ground.
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Attendees, several who said they lived nearby, watched their dogs play as they sat on large orange blocks and metallic benches scattered around the lot.
“We wanted it to be bigger than a dog park,” said Laura Braden Quigley, a lead volunteer with the project. “We wanted a place to meet our neighbors, to exchange ideas.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the park represented the city’s continued growth and dedication to community.
The park’s debut comes ahead of next month’s move-in date for new residents of the 142-apartment Ice Blocks project, located at R and 16th streets. Construction for Q19, a 68-unit apartment complex, and 20 PQR, a project expected to bring 32 homes, are still under way nearby.
Steinberg, along with assemblyman Kevin McCarty, commended the naming of the dog park after Brooks Truitt, a well-known midtown activist who died in 2014.
“Brooks Truitt really represented the essence of neighborhood,” Steinberg said. “He always held us accountable. He was really tough, but he was really fair.”
In the park’s plaza area, 7-foot-high letters spelling out “BARK” became a popular selfie destination Saturday morning. Some ventured to a small community garden located at the back of the lot, admiring a bounty of squash, sunflowers and plump tomatoes.
The idea of the urban dog park came to midtown local and developer John Hodgson more than three years ago, as he was passing the vacant, overgrown lot near the Safeway grocery store.
He took his idea to city Councilman Steve Hansen, after gathering community support for the dog park. Hansen eventually backed his proposal, Hodgson said, and the city council approved the dog park in September 2015, allotting $800,000 for the project. The Capital Area Development Authority, a public property management agency, was then charged with making the dog park a reality.
Building for the site began last fall, but was stalled due to the torrential rains that hit Sacramento at the beginning of the year, Hodgson said.
“It’s really rewarding,” he said Saturday morning, as his white dog, Carmen, sat by his side. “The goal was to do it right, as much as we can.”