EPRD board considering new dog park proposal

Deb Hurley Brobst
dbrobst@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/29/22

Friends of Evergreen Dog Park has a plan to open an off-leash dog park in Evergreen, but it will take cooperation from Jeffco Open Space and the Evergreen Park & Recreation District to make it happen.

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EPRD board considering new dog park proposal

Posted

Friends of Evergreen Dog Park has a plan to open an off-leash dog park in Evergreen, but it will take cooperation from Jeffco Open Space and the Evergreen Park & Recreation District to make it happen.

Betsy Rich and Dale Glover with FEDP presented their proposal at an EPRD board meeting on June 28, saying they have found a 36-acre parcel next to Fillius Park near the Evergreen King Soopers. They say with financial backing from Jeffco Open Space, EPRD operating the park and FEDP volunteers helping with dog-park maintenance and more, the venture could be successful.

The board voted unanimously to continue exploring the idea, noting that researching the feasibility of the dog park and operating it would take considerable staff time and effort before the EPRD board would decide whether to move forward. The board appointed board President Don Rosenthal and board member Mary McGhee to serve on a subcommittee looking at the dog-park potential.

“This is a big project, a big push, and you can’t push everything at once,” Rosenthal said. “I’m supportive of pushing this along.”

Board members agreed that community input would be needed before the board would make a decision.

Rosenthal said EPRD staff will determine if the proposed property is the best option for the dog park, then put together a proposed management and staffing plan.

 

The proposal

FEDP hopes EPRD will purchase the property and operate the dog park. Jeffco Open Space has offered up to $1 million to EPRD to purchase the property and up to $200,000 for construction costs.

Glover said the dog park would be fenced with members paying a fee to use the park to help control the number of users. FEDP envisions three trails — one that would make an 8/10-of-a-mile loop along Evergreen Parkway, one in the middle of the hill and one at the top.

He said the north area of the park is heavily wooded so it would provide a buffer for the homes to the north.

Glover promised that FEDP would provide volunteers to help EPRD get the needed permits, and to do maintenance, cleanup, education, trail development and fundraising. FEPD hopes the dog park would support itself financially and could even provide EPRD with additional income for other programs.

“This is perfect for Evergreen,” Glover said. “We all want to go hiking. Having an off-leash area and enjoying the view is the experience we’re looking for.”

The traffic light at Evergreen and Bergen parkways by King Soopers would help regulate traffic flow, he said, and the road is gated, so only those accessing the dog park would get in. Parking would be along the roadway and in a parking area.

Rich said an off-leash dog park was an integral part of recreation activities, noting that the former dog park had 4,000 visitors weekly with 45% coming from outside of Evergreen. She explained if Jeffco Open Space operates a dog park, it is considered a regional park, which brings more visitors from outside the area. She believed the dog park on Stagecoach Boulevard that was closed in 2017 was attractive to outsiders because it was 107 acres rather than the 36 acres being proposed.

Five years in the making

FEDP has been looking for a new dog park location since Jeffco Open Space closed the off-leash park, citing overcrowding, parking issues, animal waste, a contaminated waterway and erosion as reasons for the closure. The closure caused an uproar in Evergreen, and FEDP members said it cleaned up the dog waste, the water wasn’t contaminated, and it was ready to operate the park.

On the fifth anniversary of the Evergreen off-leash dog park closing, several residents asked the Jefferson County commissioners to fast-track finding a new location, saying they believe the county has been dragging its feet. FEDP and Jeffco Open Space looked at other locations, but FEDP said Jeffco Open Space put up roadblocks. Jeffco Open Space has said there were other barriers to finding a dog-park location.

EPRD comments

Cory Vander Veen, EPRD’s executive director, said the staff was excited to explore the site and the dog-park opportunity.

Board member Monty Estis said it was always good for EPRD to provide constituents with more services.

“This is a big project,” he said. “If we are going to work on this, there is probably something else we won’t be working on. I’d like us to consider what other rec opportunities we could have on that property. … We need to consider this in the context of the strategic plan as well.”

McGhee noted as ERPD looked at the proposal, it would need to ensure that Fillius Park doesn’t become a de facto off-leash dog park because it is adjacent to the proposed dog park.

“We have to as staff anticipate the worse behaviors and how to manage them,” Vander Veen said. “We have to plan for everything and anything so we can manage it long-term.”

Rosenthal added: “But if this doesn’t work, we have the right to close it.”

A year ago, Jeffco Open Space asked EPRD if it would consider operating a dog park, and that EPRD board have seven conditions: the land must be close to district property, usage can be controlled, the park meets community needs, the park is economically viable, EPRD is held harmless for environmental damage, EPRD has liability insurance and EPRD can close the dog park if the board feels it is not working.

Three community members voiced support for ERPD undertaking an off-leash dog park, saying it would be an important asset to the community.

However, community member Robert Gottsman said he opposed the idea because he didn’t believe EPRD should be managing a dog park. EPRD, instead, should be providing more programs for people.

 

FEDP, Friends of Evergreen Dog Park, dog park, Stagecoach dog park

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