Fenced-in dog park proposal heading to Steamboat Parks and Rec Commission | SteamboatToday.com

Fenced-in dog park proposal heading to Steamboat Parks and Rec Commission

The conceptual plan for the off-leash dog park calls for fencing around Rita Valentine Park.

Golfers, governments and other user groups have never had much luck building anything in Rita Valentine Park.

Disc golfers had their short-lived course ripped up out of the ground after opposition from neighbors.

Before them, golfers eyeing a nine-hole executive course and educators who thought the undeveloped park might be a site for a new school struck out too.

And who can forget the angst and anger the city administration created in 2013 when balloons went up in a corner of Rita Valentine to show an imaginary shell of police station situated in a corner of the park?

On Wednesday, a group trying to make Steamboat Springs more dog friendly will start to find out whether they might be more successful than those who have tried to claim a piece of the park before them.

The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission is going to weigh in on a proposal to develop a large, off-leash dog park at Rita Valentine that would include 4,000 linear feet of fencing, expanded parking lots and the introduction of trees to provide shade.

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There won't be debates about siren noises, buildings blocking the view of Sleeping Giant or Frisbees hitting hikers.

This time around, the dog advocates think the debate will likely center on the fencing.

The dog park meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Citizens Hall.

"To me, I still think the biggest issue is going to be to fence, or not to fence," Steamboat Digs Dogs spokeswoman Kathy Connell said.

Connell acknowledged there are some neighbors who are against adding fencing to what is currently a large tract of open, undeveloped land that offers views of Sleeping Giant and Mount Werner.

Connell said the 4-foot-high fencing would help protect wildlife from unwanted confrontations with off-leash dogs.

Steamboat Digs Dogs estimates their entire dog park concept at Rita Valentine would cost $592,897.

Connell said the group currently has about $45,000 in commitments from private donors, plus $7,000 already in the bank in the form of an endowment.

In addition, the group has Steamboat resident John Lanterman, a landscape architect and park planner, working for free on the park concept and design.

If the Parks and Recreation Commission and then the City Council endorse the plan, Steamboat Digs Dogs thinks the project would be a good candidate for grant funding.

“Once we know what the plan is, we’ll continue like crazy with fundraising,” Connell said.

The plan envisions the planting of new trees, including cottonwoods and Evergreens, to provide some shade that doesn't currently exist in the park.

A walking and cycling path would run outside of the fenced-in area at the park.

The city itself does not have money in its budget to fund such a park.

City officials estimate even if it was privately funded, it would cost the city $10,000 to $20,000 a year to maintain the park.

Connell said the group is open to constructing the park in phases, with the fencing, water fountain and parking improvements coming first.

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