Park City paws at idea to create large dog park | ParkRecord.com

Park City paws at idea to create large dog park

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Park City leaders this week pawed at the possibility of creating a large dog park.

But they were not ready to unleash an idea for one.

Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council held an unscheduled discussion about a dog park at a meeting on Thursday. The discussion was apparently spurred by recent questions about leash laws. The talk on Thursday was brief, but it is expected to lead to more formal discussions later, probably over the winter.

It appears the elected officials could eventually consider creating a large dog park in a section of Round Valley, a beloved swath of open space that stretches out from the edge of Park Meadows. Much of Round Valley is under City Hall ownership, acquired over the years as a part of the municipal government’s conservation efforts.

Round Valley is a popular place for hiking and mountain biking in the summer as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Many recreation lovers bring their dogs with them off leashes when they head into Round Valley.

The leash law, though, is in effect in public places in Park City and surrounding Summit County, including in locations like Round Valley where dogs are regularly seen off leashes. Dog parks like the one at Quinn’s Junction are the only public places where they can run free.

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Cindy Matsumoto, a City Councilor, indicated at the meeting City Hall has the ability to establish dog parks. She said she wanted to make creating a dog park in Round Valley a priority. Matsumoto said she also wanted City Hall to consider unspecified other locations.

Liza Simpson, another City Councilor, said a conservation group has already researched the possibility of locating a dog park in Round Valley in a spot where it would not interfere with wildlife.

The mayor and City Council did not delve into details. Park City Manager Diane Foster said the topic could return to the elected officials in late January or early February. The elected officials at that time would be expected to hold a detailed discussion and, potentially, provide some sort of direction if they want to pursue a dog park. City Hall staffers would likely draft a report in anticipation of that meeting that would provide a rundown of options.

Any idea for a large dog park in Round Valley could be politically sensitive. While many people already bring their dogs off leashes to Round Valley, others who use the vast acreage without dogs may push back at an idea. They could argue for access to the full acreage of Round Valley without the prospects of encountering dogs off leash.

Park City currently operates one dog park, located at Quinn’s Junction. It is not widely used and has been criticized for its remote location, smallish size and lack of amenities. Many people instead run their dogs off leash on the field outside the Park City Library and Education Center or on trails in the city. The leash law is in effect at the library field and on the trails, however.