Future of Rita Valentine Park back on Parks and Rec agenda | SteamboatToday.com

Future of Rita Valentine Park back on Parks and Rec agenda

Scott Franz

Raphael plays in the snow at Rita Valentine Park on Friday afternoon.

— A community group that wants to improve local parks for canines will seek public input Wednesday evening on a proposal to add new dog-related amenities to Rita Valentine Park.

Steamboat Digs Dogs is also proposing the city allow off-leash dogs in portions of Whistler Park.

"This is just step one of the public input process," Steamboat Digs Dogs spokeswoman Kathy Connell said of the upcoming meeting to discuss the proposals. "We're going for input and ideas for improvements."

Connell said the group hasn't yet been able to hold a meeting with neighbors of Rita Valentine Park.

Discussions about the park's future have historically been contentious, with many of the neighbors not wanting to see changes to the park.

The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission scrapped an old conceptual plan for new park amenities in 2014.

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That same year, the city abandoned plans to build a new police station in a corner of the park after the proposal was met with strong community criticism.

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 on top of "Mutt Mountain."

Connell said members of the public, including non-dog lovers, will be able to provide their input on the future of the park during a design charrette.

The discussion takes place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday during a Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.

Steamboat Digs Dogs is seeking grant funding from such groups as the Beneful dog food company to help pay for improvements.

A GoFundMe page for citywide dog-related improvements has raised more than $4,000 since it was created in November.

The community group is also working on other initiatives that would benefit the city's dogs.

A new dog waste composting program would turn doggy doo doo into renewable energy and also create revenue-generating opportunities for future park improvements.

Steamboat Dig Dogs is seeking approval from the city to bring the program to the animal shelter and Rita Valentine Park.

The composting program would also encourage dog owners to pick up after their pets.

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

If you go

The public can weigh in on proposed changes to local parks at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11.

The meeting takes places at Citizens Hall on 10th Street in downtown Steamboat.