Dog park a work in progress | ParkRecord.com

Dog park a work in progress

Kristina Eastham, Record contributing writer

Getting people to change their habits can be ‘ruff.’ And while Bark City, the dog park at Quinn’s Junction, has been open and functional for almost a year, dog owners aren’t utilizing the space very often.

The dog park is still considered a work in progress. A citizen’s advisory committee is working with the city to address the main issues keeping dog owners away and continuing to run their dogs in areas where animals are technically required to be leashed.

According to dog owners and the online forum for the dog park, main concerns are mud and a lack of shade to keep dogs and owners cool.

"Shade is huge. Shade is kind of a make or break deal," Maca Leontic said. She said she used the Quinn’s Junction dog park a few times during the winter, but now takes her dogs, Sancho and Ayla, to the grassy area by the library and to the ponds on Deer Valley Drive. At these places, shade or water keep her dark-coated dogs cool.

Leontic feels there is a lot of room for improvement at the dog park and most importantly she would like to see water that dogs could swim or wade in. She said the addition of trees, bushes, rocks and even agility structures for dogs to play on would make it more attractive to her and her dogs.

Money from a fundraiser and some approved by the Recreation Advisory Board will be used to address the issues of shade and mud at the dog park over the next month.

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"We’re excited because certainly improving the park is a very expensive project," Margie Schloesser, dog park committee member, said. "And so we’re just trying to make, you know, improvements that we felt like will have the most impact."

The Recreation Advisory Board approved $50,000 for grading and to cover most of the area with a material called "crusher fines," which are a low-maintenance, finely-crushed rock that is used on other trails in Park City and dog parks around the country.

"It usually compacts fairly well, but it’s still a little loose," said Matt Twombly, project manager for the City’s sustainability department. "It’s not like pavement where they might hurt their paws."

Estimates for the infrastructure for grass and irrigation were close to $100,000, and required more upkeep than crusher-fines.

An additional $8,500 was provided by a fundraiser at The Downstairs in March and will go toward purchasing a shade structure.

Twombly said the park will most likely be closed while the crusher fines and shade structure are being installed. He did not have an exact date for the improvements, but hopes the grading and ground cover projects will be completed by mid-August.

"With shade and some of the mud gone, it will be at a much more usable point," Schloesser said.

But some dog owners think the problems with the dog park are harder to fix.

Stu Nachlas lives across the street from the open field at the library and brings his dog Katie May there to play. He said aside from the issues of no water and no shade, he considers it "environmentally incorrect" to have to drive from Old Town to Quinn’s Junction to exercise his dog.

And Leontic referred to the "community" that has formed between dog owners who frequent the field by the library. "I have met some really, really good friends here," she said. She said the atmosphere is similar at the ponds at Deer Valley.

And the desire to continue to be allowed to use the area "binds us all together. We want to keep it so bad; we have to police each other." This includes picking up dog poop and helping one another with dogs’ behavioral issues.

The fenced in area at the Quinn’s Junction dog park does provide peace of mind for owners whose dogs run away when taken off the leash. And now the dog park committee hopes that by starting to address dog owners’ concerns, the park will see more use from, both on a daily basis and for special events.

One event that is scheduled to be held at Bark City is a dog show fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Joyce E. Ponzio, who works at the Canyons Resort, is planning this "fun, upbeat" event for August. It will include dress-up contests, agility and a dog and owner look-alike contest. For more information or to get involved, contact jponzio@thecanyons.com.

The dog park is located at the Sports Complex at Quinn’s Junction and is open from sunrise to sunset. For a complete list of rules, visit parkcitydogpark.com. To donate or for more information, contact info@parkcitydogpark.com.

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