The Evergreen Park & Recreation District is putting the brakes on a proposal to put an off-leash dog park on 36 acres east of Fillius Park.
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After a lengthy discussion and input from the public, the board on Sept. 27 decided to spend two months both looking at other potential locations and revisiting whether the district wants to move forward with creating a dog park as it embarks on a strategic-planning process.
Friends of Evergreen Dog Park, which has promised to implement the dog park’s management plan, will be consulted as the board’s subcommittee looks at other locations.
Members of the board had differing reasons for putting the dog park on hold:
The rec district began exploring the dog park after Jeffco Open Space offered up to $1 million to purchase the private property and up to $200,000 for construction costs. If the rec district moves forward, the area would be entirely fenced with a buffer area between the dog park and neighboring homes.
Evergreen hasn’t had an off-leash dog park for more than five years since Jeffco Open Space closed the dog park on Stagecoach Boulevard. Friends of Evergreen Dog Park have worked continuously during that time to get Evergreen a dog park in a new location.
According to EPRD officials, Open Space isn’t tied into the property east of Fillius Park, which is why the district will explore other options.
Executive Director Cory Vander Veen suggested the district put the dog park on pause because the staff had a lot on its plate, and the district should consider first its strategic plan and what the community considers priorities.
“We are here to provide the best park and rec district we can,” Vander Veen said. “We don’t want to not be successful. From our team’s perspective, we are very cautious about that. We can’t say we are 100 percent in favor of moving forward. We would like to pause, take a step back and focus on the strategic plan.”
Dale Glover, president of Friends of Evergreen Dog Park, said the organization was concerned that this property was Evergreen’s last chance to get an off-leash dog park because there are few suitable large parcels available.
Neighbors’ and proponents’ comments
Neighbors near the property asked rec district officials to slow the process, saying they weren’t consulted and feel they didn’t have a voice as the property has been studied. They said while volunteers have pledged to clean dog waste, it would be hard to collect in the really steep areas, and there was concern about urine contaminating the soil and potentially groundwater.
Friends of Evergreen Dog Park were concerned about a rec district survey asking the public for their ideas regarding a dog park, noting the results weren’t valid.
The group also continued to advocate for the 36-acre site, saying there would be trails for those who wanted to hike to the top and those who preferred something less strenuous, and user fees would pay for the park’s operation, so there would be no burden to taxpayers.
Others continued to advocate for having a well-managed dog park in Evergreen, saying it was necessary for the dogs’ and their owners’ wellbeing.
“Pickleball and tennis players have courts; swimmers have the pool; soccer, football and lacrosse have their fields; gymnastics have training facilities,” said Bill May, a former board member. “Perhaps dog owners also need a park.”
However, May was concerned that if creating a dog park would cost more than the $200,000 that Jeffco Open Space promised, the rec district would have to foot the bill, an expense the district was not prepared to cover.
Board members’ comments
“This would be a major ask for EPRD to pursue,” board President Don Rosenthal said. “If we undertake this, I want us to do a good or excellence job. I am not convinced we can do a good or excellent job. When we work on the strategic plan, we should put the dog park into it and see how it plays out.”
Board member Monty Estis agreed. “To me, this is as big as a lot of projects that will be considered in the strategic plan.”
Board member Peter Eggers said the district needed to test the management model to make sure usage could be controlled.
“I totally believe that community has spoken,” board member Betsy Hays said. “They are saying they would like a dog park in our community. Is (the 36-acre parcel) the right place? I don’t know. I think what we are hearing is a smaller, flatter spot. I think the management plan is awesome.”
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