Off-leash dog park trial nears fruition |

Off-leash dog park trial nears fruition

School Board to allow dogs to romp at Whistler Park

Mike McCollum

Bob Riley takes a walk with his dog, Madison, along the Spring Creek trail in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday afternoon. An off-leash trial program proposed by the Responsible Dog Ownership Group of Steamboat moved closer to fruition during a Steamboat Springs School Board meeting Monday night.

— A trial program to allow dogs to romp off leash during specific times in some city parks moved one step closer to fruition during a Steamboat Springs School Board meeting Monday night.

The school district owns part of Whistler Park, one of three city parks included in a plan that would create two- and three-hour windows of leash-free exercise two days a week.

Springs Creek Park and Rita Valentine Park also are proposed locations for the one-year trial program.

The School Board directed Superintendent Sandra Smyser to develop a memorandum of agreement among the school district, the city and the Responsible Dog Ownership Group of Steamboat, which is proposing the program.

Chris Wilson, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said the city and school district own adjacent parcels of land that comprise the park. RDOGS hopes to use some of the land owned by the school district, not the city.

Wilson stressed that the trial program has not begun.

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“Steps need to be done,” he said. “There needs to be a city manager rule done, the memorandum of agreement needs to be signed by the School Board. An official kick-off day by the RDOGS people needs to happen, and an official notice must be given to the public.”

Wilson added that perimeter boundaries, signs, waste bags and cans also must be set up in designated areas in the three parks.

After Smyser establishes a memorandum for the three entities, she must present the agreement to the School Board for a approval Nov. 26. Board members voiced support of the plan Monday night, but some questioned who would be responsible if an animal hurt a child.

RDOGS member Frank Cefaratti said off-leash dogs must be responsive to voice commands. Owners with unruly or disobedient dogs could be subject to citations from a patrolling officer.

Cefaratti said he hopes to open the Spring Creek and Rita Valentine parks to dogs Nov. 16, with Whistler Park opening after the School Board finalizes the agreement.

“This is something the community has asked for with the ultimate goal of having a dog park,” he said. “It’s an all-volunteer effort for our doggies.”

To volunteer with RDOGS, call Cefaratti at (970) 846-8048.

– To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail

At a glance

Proposed locations and times for trial off-leash dog recreation program

– Spring Creek Park, noon to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays

– Rita Valentine Park, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and 5 to 7 p.m. Fridays

– Whistler Park, 3 to 6 p.m. Sundays and 9 to 11 a.m. Thursdays