City Council calls for voluntary closure of Rita Valentine dog park

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— City officials are asking residents to keep their dogs leashed at Rita Valentine Park for the remainder of the winter. The request is out of concern for an elk herd that largely has left the area but spurred an outcry from nearby residents last month.

Steamboat Springs City Council unanimously approved the voluntary closure Tuesday night in Centennial Hall. Chris Wilson, director of the city’s Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department, said he’ll work with local wildlife officials to determine when conditions — and the spring thaw — have progressed enough to re-open the park off Anglers Drive for off-leash dog use.

Jim Haskins, area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, indicated he’s in no rush to see that re-opening occur.

“We would not recommend (an off-leash park) at that location in any season,” Haskins said. “We think it’s going to lead to wildlife/human conflicts.”

The elk herd camped out in areas around the park for much of December and January, often resting in residents’ yards while eating trees and shrubs. Haskins said much of the herd has moved on to the Steamboat Ski Touring Center, a common winter spot for elk.

Also Tuesday night:

■ City Council unanimously approved a contract naming Wendy DuBord interim city manager while City Manager Jon Roberts continues his recovery from a Jan. 2 crash at Steamboat Ski Area. Roberts sustained serious head, rib and shoulder injuries in the fall.

DuBord’s regular position is deputy city manager. She’ll be paid Roberts’ salary, which including benefits is budgeted for about $191,000 this year. DuBord’s salary in the deputy role is budgeted for about $106,000 this year.

“I certainly wish it was not happening,” DuBord said about the reason for her new duties.

She said Roberts has made “some huge strides this last week” in his recovery at Craig Hospital, an Englewood facility that specializes in treatment for traumatic brain injuries.

“He is talking much more, able to hold a conversation,” she said, adding that Roberts also is progressing in his physical therapy and asking questions about events.

■ City Council voted, 6-0, to approve a $75,000 grant from the community housing fund, which has a balance of more than $170,000 in unrestricted funds, to help Habitat for Humanity purchase land for a duplex in the Riverside neighborhood.

Construction of the du­plex could begin in 2012. Coun­cil member Bart Koun­ovsky stepped down from that vote because of a potential conflict of interest.

■ City Council gave unanimous approval to a land management agreement between the city and the Howelsen Emerald Mountain Park group, setting a framework for the group’s future management of a 586-acre parcel on Emerald Mountain that Lyman Orton is selling to the city.

■ City Council also voted unanimously to forego an automatic pay raise for council members.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Beavers 3 years, 2 months ago

There are several Elk Parks, Caribou Parks, Bear Parks, South Parks and Burt Parks. I think dogs need a park, too.

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1999 3 years, 2 months ago

But if someone wanted to build condos or a walgreens there the elk population wouldn't even be a thought.

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mtroach 3 years, 2 months ago

So now we are paying two people $190,000 for our city manager position? How's that effect the budget?

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exduffer 3 years, 2 months ago

Voluntary? Get some guts and just close the place!

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bhad 3 years, 2 months ago

I walk my dog in Rita twice a day and I have never seen a single dog chase, bark at or even get close to an elk. The dogs stay on the trails far away from any wildlife. Rita is a dog park. The only people that use it are dog owners.

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Cresean Sterne 3 years, 2 months ago

Steamboat is a huge dog town. Why is it that Estes Park can figure it out and they have elk everywhere - all the time. They are strict about any dog chasing elk but still make it work.There dog park also has a large water hole for them to play in. Dog parks are popping up everywhere. Steamboat should be no exception.. Just my twe cents...

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OnTheBusGus 3 years, 2 months ago

Like bhad, I also walk my dogs in Rita everyday and haven't seen elk or moose in probably a couple of weeks. Wildlife are smart, they have probably discovered a more suitable area to hang out. The DOW rep even stated that the animals had moved to the touring center. What is next, "voluntarily" closing the touring center? I have also never seen dogs chasing wildlife since they do stay on the trails and every person I encounter out there is also walking a dog. Leave Rita Valentine park as it is!

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