Dog group eyes third off-leash park in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Dog group eyes third off-leash park in Steamboat Springs

Animal Control Officer Krista Amatuzio gives a written warning to a woman who let her dog run off leash at Whistler Park in May. The officers use their discretion when deciding if they should write a ticket or a warning.

— Dog advocates in Steamboat Springs are hoping to secure a third off-leash area for their canines inside the city limits.

But before the new off-leash area at Whistler Park goes beyond the conceptual phase, the city wants to hear from residents about the idea.

Steamboat Digs Dogs spokeswoman Kathy Connell acknowledged Tuesday some neighbors have expressed concerns about parking if the park is utilized more during the winter.

The city does not plow the small parking lot near the park, and some neighbors have concerns about more cars parking on nearby streets, Connell said.

Connell said the dog advocates are looking into the potential of the city plowing an area that could accommodate more cars.

The additional parking would be key, she said.

Steamboat Digs Dogs wants the city to sanction a pilot program that would allow dogs to be off leash during certain times in the city-owned portion of the park.

Under the proposal, dogs would be allowed off leash from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. through April.

The time limits would aim to prevent conflicts with wildlife.

Connell said dog owners already regularly walk their dogs off leash on trails in Whistler Park.

In the past, some dog owners have attempted to evade animal control officers enforcing leash laws by taking their dogs on side trails off city property.

An off-leash area at Whistler would be the city's third off-leash dog area; others are Rita Valentine Park and Spring Creek Pond.

The proposal will be discussed at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday during a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting in Citizens Hall.

Revisions to the city's animal code have made it possible for commissioners to recommend new off-leash areas to City Council.

Any changes to existing leash laws in parks would have to be endorsed by the city's elected officials.

Also on Wednesday, the Parks and Recreation Commission will invite the public to weigh in on proposed dog-related improvements to Rita Valentine Park.

A new conceptual plan for Rita Valentine recently put together by Steamboat Digs Dogs includes new fenced areas for dogs, the planting of cottonwood trees for shade, new waste receptacles, additional trails, a shaded structure and new benches atop "Mutt Mountain."

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10