Dog park improvements at Rita Valentine get support from parks and rec commission | SteamboatToday.com

Dog park improvements at Rita Valentine get support from parks and rec commission

Scott Franz

John Waldman plays a game of fetch with Luna in Rita Valentine Park. Before it became a cherished piece of open space, the 40 acres that make up the park originally was going to be part of a subdivision.

Residents who are trying to make Steamboat Springs more dog-friendly secured another victory last week when the city's parks and recreation commission endorsed a concept for dog park improvements at Rita Valentine Park.

The commission did not sign off on Steamboat Digs Dogs' entire vision for Rita Valentine, which included a fence and bigger parking lots.

Some commissioners said they weren't in favor of the fencing, and some residents who attended a hearing on the proposal also expressed concerns about it.

Instead, the commission expressed support for a first phase that would add a water source, benches, shade and dog waste containers to the park, a portion of which already serves as an off-leash dog park.

Some of the bigger ticket items will be considered in later phases.

Commissioner Doug Tumminello cautioned the dog group that without outside funding and a maintenance agreement with Steamboat Digs Dogs or another private entity, he doesn't think the park has a chance to actually be built.

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"There's not room in the city budget for city staff to take on maintenance responsibilities" at a dog park, Tumminello said.

He added the project would likely rank low on the city's capital improvement budget.

The commission has in the past endorsed other plans for parks that have been collecting dust on shelves due to a lack of city funding.

Steamboat Digs Dogs has reportedly gathered more than $50,000 in financial commitments toward the park.

It has also found a warm reception from the parks and rec commission.

"I feel like this is a good working relationship that will continue," Commissioner Sarah Floyd said.

Now Steamboat Digs Dogs will turn their attention to the Steamboat Springs City Council, which will ultimately decide whether to act on the commission's recommendations.

The council on Tuesday will start by weighing in on a proposal to create new off-leash areas for dogs at Whistler Park, Blackmere Drive and the Lower Spring Creek Trail.

If approved, off-leash areas in the city limits would go from just two to five.

The off-leash areas would be approved on a trial basis.

City officials estimate it would cost about $800 to install eight signs at the new off-leash areas.

The three new off-leash areas were unanimously endorsed by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

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