We love our pets! While I have been out knocking on doors and visiting with people throughout Glenwood, one thing is clear . . . folks in Glenwood love our critters. That was abundantly clear to me this morning as I took a stroll along the Rio Grand Trail. Lots of pooches and their two-legged pals were enjoying the beautiful spring weather.
I am no exception to the critter craze. My household currently consists of two dogs, a Goldendoodle (a stray that found us) and a Cairn Terrier mix (a rescue) , three cockatiels and a green-cheek Amazon parrot. Not too long ago it also included two cats and an African Grey parrot. Sadly my two cats departed for the rainbow bridge at the ages of 15 & 17. My African Grey was a victim of the listeria outbreak a few years ago. He loved fruit and cantaloupe was a wonderful treat.
In most households, my knock on the door is met with at least one “dog alarm” letting their owner know someone is there. One of my opponents has said he will advocate for a dog park for our furry friends – a noble cause. From a photo I have seen, it looks like he may have a Cairn Terrier as well. I am sure he realizes that Glenwood has a dog park and dog run along the Rio Grand Trail, just south of the high school.
Is this ideal? No – for a number of reasons but three that are important.
Access: To get to this park you must walk along the Rio Grande trail. There is limited parking across from the High School football field and the access is not great. This could be a problem if you are disabled.
Services: Apparently there is no water and no shade. According to Tom Barnes, Glenwood Springs’ Parks and Recreation Director, the soil is very poor in that area, making growing trees or grass difficult. I only saw one lonely park bench for pet parents, in the middle of the play area for the larger dogs.
Security: Because it is along the trail there is no one nearby to monitor the activity in this area. In some areas the fence appears to have holes or gaps that could allow escape.
According to Mr. Barnes, the park site was based on citizen advocates and funded by the city in conjunction with donation of time and materials. He mentioned, and I agree that there are probably better options. He noted health concerns with pets that are not properly vaccinated and cared for.
So what part does the city have in fixing this problem, particularly when the budget is tight and needs are high? Should this be a priority? Mr. Barnes indicated a willingness to work with community members to find better options. This is not an ideal place for this park and we and our fuzzy companions would probably be better served if this park were in another location that was more accessible and could be better monitored. But, again, the city is under very tight budget constraints and where does this fit in?
Mr. Barnes stated “Change does not take time, it takes commitment”. It is going to take commitment from pet advocates, dog owners, and businesses to make such a change happen.
My suggestion is that the Parks and Recreation Commission, along with the Parks and Rec Department and a representative local veterinarian and three interested citizens/businesses determine three viable alternatives for this park. The fourth alternative is to leave it where it is and do nothing at this time. From that, Council will make a decision after hearing public input.
The criteria for selection and final determination should include a brief SWOT analysis, resource requirements from the city (money, personnel and equipment), availability to water and electric, potential for shade, access to the site and access and location within the city, security and a committed volunteer group or sponsor to not only help build, but maintain and monitor this park. This is not an outside study. This is a brief 2-3 hour exercise.
I would recommend looking for sponsorships for ongoing funding for this park. Those could come from national organization such as Purina, Petco, or local businesses such as veterinarian offices, Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE), HighTails or Shaggy Dog. This is a unique opportunity for a truly public/private partnership. Perhaps some budding or existing entrepreneur or group would be willing to partner with the City for an adjacent doggie daycare facility and could serve as monitoring agent.
The possibilities are endless and from my wanderings around town, it is apparent that we in Glenwood Springs love our dogs. You may have other suggestions on our dog park and if so, I would love to hear them. The bottom line is that the City cannot do this alone particularly when there are so many other pressing needs. It seems there are enough dog lovers that truly want this. If so, then it will take some creative thought and commitment. With that commitment and a public/private partnership, we could have a world-class dog park. It is all about creating places that people (and their pets) want to be!