Park City off-leash area critic: ‘should we not go to Round Valley?’
A Park Meadows woman on Thursday expressed concern about one of Park City’s new off-leash areas, telling City Hall leaders she is worried about safety and the process that led to setting aside the acreage as a place for dogs to run off leashes.
Ali Ziesler made an unscheduled appearance at a Park City Council meeting to broach the topic of the off-leash areas. Her comments focused on Round Valley rather than part of the field outside the Park City Library.
She said she is concerned for the safety of her three young boys, who regularly head into Round Valley. Ziesler added that she is also concerned about Round Valley in the summer, when runners and bicyclists head into the acreage in large numbers.
"Should we not go to Round Valley? I don’t know what to expect there," she said.
Ziesler requested that the decision to create the off-leash area be repealed before the summer. She said there was not enough public input prior to the decision, she is worried about a lack of enforcement and she indicated the off-leash area in Round Valley is larger than is needed.
Ziesler recounted being bitten by a loose dog in Park Meadows while jogging. The location was not in the off-leash area, but she said the dog owner "blamed me for what happened."
Andy Beerman, a member of the City Council, told her she should have patience as he described that there are rules in the off-leash area, such as a prohibition on dogs biting people and chasing wildlife. Tim Henney, another City Councilor, told her there was a "great deal of process" prior to the creation of the off-leash areas. Henney told Ziesler there are other locations she could go if she has concerns about Round Valley.
Mayor Jack Thomas described that the off-leash areas are a pilot program that will be further discussed later. Diane Foster, the Park City manager, said City Hall officials are discussing enforcement issues with Summit County, which is responsible for animal control.
But Ziesler is worried about the "tone" in Park City regarding the off-leash area. She said she "will not go to Round Valley."
"It’s embarrassing we’re working it out after the fact," she also said.
The City Council early in the year unanimously declared a large swath of Round Valley approximately 1,400 acres — an off-leash area. It is City Hall-owned land that was acquired for conservation purposes. There was widespread support by dog owners who wanted a large place to run their pets off leash rather than a dog park at Quinn’s Junction that has been criticized for its smallish size and remote location. There was a smattering of concerns as well, though, as people worried they would be confronted by an off-leash dog and the dogs would chase wildlife.
The City Council, in creating the off-leash areas, put restrictions on them, including that an owner must have a dog under what is referred to as voice and sight control. Dog attacks are prohibited and people must clean up after their pets. Dogs are also not allowed to chase people, other dogs or wildlife.
Ziesler’s appearance on Thursday is believed to be some of the first public criticism of the off-leash areas since they debuted just before the opening of the Sundance Film Festival. She also appeared shortly after a dog bite in the Round Valley off-leash area was publicized. The bite, reported on Jan. 19, was the first such case logged by the Park City Police Department since the opening of the off-leash area.
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Park City on Tuesday hosted an open house designed to provide information about a wide range of municipal projects and programs, but the event took on greater meaning with the gathering becoming among the largest City Hall-organized events held in person in the more than a year.