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The Straight Poop on Parks

As published in the Mountain Mail on January 14, 2020...Sometimes not knowing the history or all the details about an issue can lead to incorrect assumptions and accusations. Over nine years ago the Mountain Mail invited Salida Dog Club members to routinely write column articles to help educate the community about the dog park, other dog related issues and stories.Critical to understanding the big picture is to know about the history of a subject. Fifteen years ago there were no parks in Salida for dogs to access. Prohibiting ordinances had been established primarily in response to irresponsible pet owners not picking up after their dogs. About 10 years ago, a core group of dog advocates envisioned having a dog park here in Salida. With strong support and collaborative efforts of the city, the school district, the Salida Dog club and the community, a dog park was opened in Salida on November of 2009.The city was initially skeptical about the need for a dog park, but approved and then even provided insurance to make it affordable for the dog club to build and then maintain the park. The park has since proven its popularity and the city has taken over the park maintenance and Loyal Duke’s Dog Park is now considered an official city park. A dog park advisory committee meets routinely to collaboratively maintain and improve the park. Present at the advisory meetings are Will Taliaferro (the city’s Parks & Facilities Supervisor), Salida Dog Club board members and sometimes Brandon Hawkins, (the school’s Facility/Safety Director).Administrators of the school district very much have influence on what happens at the dog park because the school district owns the land on which the dog park rests. The location of the park was picked because there is a water gallery system beneath the surface there. This makes a prime location for the park not useable for many other purposes. The disadvantage of the location is that the ground is hard and rocky. Rocks continue to ‘grow’ from underneath the soil.Some of you may remember the story, a couple of years ago, about how a retired veterinarian visiting Salida commented on the dog park’s rocky surface. Within a few days of the comment, the vet passed away in a tragic bicycle accident. His significant other arranged for donations to go to Loyal Duke’s Dog Park. The Dog Park Advisory board arranged to have high quality road base placed in the dog park with the donation money.The new material helped with the surface conditions, but it is still not ideal. The Dog Park Advisory committee members then had a consultation with a landscape designer. Tentative plans were made to have the city install an irrigation system which would be the foundation for some major improvements to the park. All was looking good for significant improvements until the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the dog club, city and school district came due…At a meeting with school administration staff and board members, we learned that the prime dog park/soccer field/school garden land is being considered for the Colorado Mountain College. Now all plans are on hold until the site for the college is decided.On the bright side, the value of a dog park has been recognized. If the current dog park is affected by a college campus, the dog club has been assured that another dog park would be built.Also on the bright side, dog advocates have been listened to at PROST meetings. Access for dogs in other parks is being considered. Hopefully we, the new generation of dog owners, can prove ourselves more responsible for picking up poop than those about 16 years ago!Laura Pintane is a local dog trainer and a huge advocate for the mission statement of Salida Dog Club

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