Fresno park closures leave dog owners asking big questions

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Several parks across Fresno are closed. Some say it's an issue over dogs, their owners, and leash laws. Now they're fighting for access to the outdoor green space.

Cynthia Doerner is just one of dozens of dog owners upset at finding these park closed signs at several spots across Fresno. "They're great places for families to come. It's a wonderful green space. My dog loves coming here and playing with a ball, running and playing with his friends. But we just want everybody to be happy."

She met Karen Valenzuela at the park on Holland and Thorne near Fig Garden. For months they've been locked out. "With all the controversy about green space here in Fresno 19.47 people seeing all these beautiful parks with the park closed sign on them is very irritating. 19.55 There isn't any place for the kids to play," said Valenzuela.

The parks are owned by the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District. They double as ponding basins. The district said the parks closed because far too many people were not following leash laws. Signs outside the gates point out the rules.

Doerner and Valenzuela admitted they were warned by the district the parks would close if dog owners didn't comply. "We, in essence, were breaking this law," said Valenzuela .

But they're pleading with the district to reopen the parks saying they're responsible dog owners just looking for a compromise. The district said its working with Fresno city and county leaders to adjust ordinances to unlock the gates and become a leash-free park.

"We want this for everybody, not just us and our dogs. We want it for everybody to enjoy because they places are beautiful," said Valenzuela.

The district says it's working with the city and county on liability issues before allowing the parks to reopen -- leash-free.
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