City Council calls for voluntary closure of Rita Valentine dog park | SteamboatToday.com

City Council calls for voluntary closure of Rita Valentine dog park

Mike Lawrence

— 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.

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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

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