Op Image: Midtown lot is so ugly, you can give it to the dogs

This empty lot at Q and 19th streets will become a dog park.
This empty lot at Q and 19th streets will become a dog park. esmith@sacbee.com

For all of the years of silence at 19th and Q streets, the racket this week was somewhat surprising.

Power tools. The thumping of hammers. The repetitive beeps of a construction vehicle backing up. A couple of guys wearing hard hats and carrying two-by-fours into a fortified ditch.

It’s nice to see some activity in this long-empty lot at the intersection’s southwest corner, and not just the same old overgrown grass surrounded by a barbed-wire fence secured with a rusty chain.

The desolation is not at all unlike that of many other, seemingly abandoned lots that dot Sacramento’s landscape. They are eyesores and magnets for trash. But more than that, they are all-too-visible downers in a city that’s almost high over being on the upswing again.

Yet the emptiness of this particular lot at 19 and Q streets, where I was so excited to see work being done on Thursday, has always been particularly striking.

Probably because it sits in the shadow of the oh, so snazzy Safeway shopping center. Or maybe because it’s two blocks from The Sacramento Bee, and I walk by it all the time. Either way, the juxtaposition is further evidence of the uneven development in midtown and downtown, and a reminder of all that remains to be done to fill in those gaps.

So, it’s great news that soon there will be a dog park — two of them, actually — on this ugly lot, along with a community garden and public plaza.

Can we say neighborhood gathering spot?

The grid has plenty of parks for humans, but none specifically for dogs and their owners. The project was approved in September by the Sacramento City Council and will be named after Brooks Truitt, the late longtime midtown activist.

It’s the city-run garden that’s under construction now. Work on the dog park starts next year.

My guess is the dog park, which will require some outside fund-raising to get up and running, will get a lot of use. Especially once developer Sotiris Kolokotronis makes good on his plan to build apartments and homes on various empty lots around 19th, 20th and Q streets.

He already has deals to buy several properties, including The Sacramento Bee’s garage between 20th and 21st streets, and is aiming for a multiblock housing and retail complex called Midtown Quarters.

And then, just like that, poof! No more eyesores.

Selfishly, I’m looking forward to more activity in what’s now a relatively quiet corner of midtown. Anything will be better than the eerie silence of empty lots.