Willow Creek Dog Park unleashed
Dog owners won’t have such a ruff time finding a place to play, thanks to a decision by the Snyderville Planning Commission on Dec. 18 to approve another Summit County dog park.
The only other parks in the county are at Trailside Park in the Silver Summit area and the Park City Dog Park at the recreation complex on Round Valley Drive and Gillmor Way.
"We did a survey in May of the top priority areas for the county, and an off-leash dog area was probably the second highest unmet need that the community asked for," said Brian Hanton, Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District (Basin Recreation) Parks and Recreation Manager.
Hanton said they also wanted to make the park a safer place for residents and dog owners to visit and recreate.
"Safety is always an issue we deal with, with dogs off-leash running through play areas, in the playground and on playing fields," he said. "There have been runners that have had dogs jump up on them. So those are things we hope to limit."
While they cannot enforce the county law of no dogs off leashes in open areas, Hanton said they would like to provide people who want to abide by the law with a place to go to play fetch with their dogs or let them roam without fear of animal control officers.
Basin Recreation will enclose 2.4 acres of the southern portion of Willow Creek Park, located on the corner of Old Ranch Road and Split Rail Lane, for a dog park. The existing trail will be rerouted to place it outside the fenced area.
The dog park will include the small pond with a floating dock for a dog launch and a beach-like entry on the east side of the pond for easy access and to prevent deterioration of the pond edges.
"The off-leash area will have ranch-style fencing and dog-proof mesh with two entries so people can get in and out with their dogs, but also prevent their dogs from getting loose," Summit County Planner Kimber Gabryszak said. "The dog park will also have some items, such as pavilions, rest areas and so on, inside the park for people who are participating and visiting the park."
While most of the residents who spoke during the public hearing spoke in favor of the dog park, some voiced opposition.
"They were mostly concerned about the additional pressure on the park," she said. "It’s pretty crowded at the park a lot of the time, so people were concerned it would increase that pressure. It’s also in a residential area. They were in support of the concept of a dog park in general, but not necessarily in that particular area."
Gabryszak noted, however, that the dog park was surprisingly uncontroversial. "It always seems like parks, churches and schools are very controversial, especially in neighborhoods. But it was quite a smooth discussion."
The Planning Commission did have stipulations for the approval. The proposal includes 35 new parking stalls within the existing Willow Creek parking lot. But it also calls for 10 additional parking stalls along Old Ranch Road.
"There’s parking inside the park and they are proposing additional spaces inside the park, but as part of the dog park amendment, they were also proposing to add parking immediately adjacent Old Ranch Road," Gabryszak explained. "So the Planning Commission wanted to either have the parking on Old Ranch Road deleted from the plan, or have them come back with a park study to show how the parking will function."
Hanton said they plan to talk to the county engineer concerning the proposed parking along Old Ranch Road.
"They might say right out of the gate that we can’t do it, so then we’ll just omit that parking there. If not, we’ll see if there are any options that will be a little different or a little safer," he said.
Basin Recreation plans to begin construction in the spring and finish by July 2013.
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