Park City dog talk: will tails wag or will tails be between the legs?
Some may leave the Marsac Building on Thursday evening with tails wagging, metaphorically.
Others could have their tails between their legs.
Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council are scheduled to hold a discussion about dogs that is expected to touch on the prospects of creating a large off-leash area as well as the wider topic of leash laws. Dogs and leash laws have been especially divisive issues in Park City as canine owners press for places to bring their pets off leashes while others claim it is unfair that they are sometimes confronted by a wayward loose dog.
The elected officials addressed the issue at a meeting in early December, making only moderate progress as they indicated they would return to the talks shortly. The discussion on Thursday is tentatively scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m. in the City Council chambers at the Marsac Building. It is scheduled as a discussion between the elected officials and City Hall staffers, but the mayor oftentimes offers an opportunity for public input.
Heinrich Deters, the trails and open space manager at City Hall, drafted a report in anticipation of the meeting covering a series of issues related to leash laws and animal control. He acknowledges the divisive nature of the issue.
"Over the past twenty years, no issue has split the community more so than the Animal Control Ordinance. On one hand, the Community relishes the ability to recreate with their dogs, off leash on the multitude of trails and open space, which has shaped Park City," Deters wrote in the report. "On the other hand, residents demand that dog owners are held responsible for the actions of their pets from a health safety and welfare point of view (both socially and environmentally)."
One of the key topics on Thursday will likely be the possibility of setting aside acreage for an off-leash area. Park City built a dog park at Quinn’s Junction, but it is not well used and has been criticized for what many perceive as its smallish size. There has been talk about a much larger area for off-leash dogs, but a precise number of acres has not been identified.
The elected officials at the earlier meeting mentioned Round Valley as a place that could be considered. City Hall owns vast acreage of open space in Round Valley, which stretches outward from Park Meadows and is a popular place for hikers and bicyclists in the summer as well as cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter. It is also a popular place for people to bring their dogs. Many of the pets are seen off leashes in Round Valley.
The report asks the City Council to decide whether a majority wants to consider Round Valley and whether there are other areas that should be studied.
The staffers also want the mayor and City Council to address topics like the municipal government’s animal control law, the possibility of creating a task force to delve into the issues and whether the City Council wants to receive a briefing from a Summit County task force.
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The people at the second part of the Park City Future Summit were nearly unanimous in indicating they have some level of concern.