~ by Bob Volpe ~
The prospects of joining the canine-friendly movement in Colorado with a designated dog park in Woodland Park sparked a number of barks from neighboring residents during a city council hearing last week.
And the council wasn’t quite ready to play fetch with the plan proponent, even though studies indicate that such a facility is needed in the area.
Local teen Bianca Bryant outlined the possibility of creating a dog park along a stretch of Fountain Creek, behind the Safeway. Bryant is a senior girl scout in Troop 3649 working on a girl scout gold award project. She is a 16-year-old sophomore at Woodland Park High School. Her proposal would create a three-quarter acre dog park between the Fountain Creek Greenway and the American Discovery Trail.
Bryant’s objective is to partner with the city in developing the park, raise money for materials, and create a volunteer work force to perform the work. Her goal is to complete the project by June 2019.
The total cost estimate for the project is $57,500. Of that, $30,000 will be donated labor, $22,500 will come from cash donations, and $5000 will be dedicated to materials. Bryant hopes the city will add some of the cost to the 2019 budget.
The project has the support of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Foxworth Galbraith, Woodland Park Panthers, Focus on the Forest, the Girl Scouts, Do It Best hardware, the Teen Center, Pet Food Pantry, Compassion Animal Hospital, and Teller County Regional Animal shelter.
Bryant describes the project as, “A place where a dog can be a dog.” Previous studies indicate that the Woodland Park area is in dire need of a dog park.
After her presentation, council asked some key questions. Mayor Pro Tem Val Carr asked how this would go through the city planning commission. Planning Director Sally Riley responded, “This is land owned by the city, it is zoned PUD (Planned Unit Development), and it is a permitted use conditionally. If council wants to move forward, we can go ahead with a site plan and a development permit. It would not necessarily require a public hearing, but you could do that if you want one.”
Carr suggested that a public hearing should take place as some in the neighborhood would be affected by the project.
Councilwoman Kellie Case asked if anyone in the audience had any input on the subject.
Resident Kent Markley rose in response. Markley said he disapproved of the project because his mother lives adjacent to the proposed project and worries she will be burdened with excessive noise from dogs barking. He stated he didn’t hear about the project until the night before the council meeting, even though the project had been posted on the site.
He commended Bryant on her efforts to do, “Something nice for the city, but this is not the place for it.” He also objects on the grounds that there needs to be an environmental study on the watershed of Fountain Creek. He worries the dog waste will have an effect on his wells, that he says are a mere 50 feet from the project. Markley also feels property values will be adversely affected by having a dog park close to his property. He said he agrees that a dog park is a good idea, but it would be better to do it somewhere like Divide or another location in the county.
After Markley’s remarks, the council continued with their questioning and comments. Carr stated that issues like environmental impacts and locations do need to be looked at by council.
Councilman Noel Sawyer then addressed the issue. Sawyer is familiar with the early concept for the park and is concerned that some of his cited issues from the beginning have yet to be addressed. He said, “Some of the things that would help the council would be potential other
He asked if Bryant had talked to the Teller County commissioners to see if they would be on board with a dog park, perhaps in Divide.
Sawyer also raised the issue of future funding to support a dog park.
The issue of the environmental impact was also questioned. Sawyer said, “Over time it is going to get saturated. There’s no way that much urine can stay without causing a smell for the houses in the area.” He suggested Bryant expand her boundaries and look at other possible locations.
No decision was made as to whether the council would schedule a public hearing in the future.