Council gives dog park the go-ahead

PINEDALE – After its June 12 regular meeting did not occur due to the lack of a quorum, the Pinedale Town Council held a special meeting last Thursday, June 16, in order to take care of some agenda items that needed timely attention, including a vote to help the dog-park contingent apply for a grant due by the end of the month.

The group first approached the council last November, asking if the council would be willing to allocate some space at the 5-acre Jackson Avenue Park for a fenced area for off-leash dogs.

The council voiced tentative support for the idea, so long as there was no cost for the town.

“The council decided we’re not going to put any money into it,” Jones said during follow-up discussion at the council’s March 13 meeting. “But if they came up with the money, we would allocate a section.”

Several years ago, a recreational survey was sent out intended to establish outdoor priorities for the area and dog parks proved to be a high priority.

“A dog park was something on the original recreation plan that everybody talked about,” councilman Matt Murdock reiterated at last week’s meeting, adding that another bonus of the proposal is that “people are ready to run this.”

The dog-park group has to have its applications for $25,000 in grant money from PetSafe turned in by the end of June. But in order to do so, a letter of support from the town is needed and specific plans must be laid out, including the location and size of the proposed park.

“They’re giving away $275,000 this year and they want to have that security,” said organizer Dawn Lawrence, explaining that PetSafe wants to ensure the dog-park grant proposals are intended to become reality.

But the town has had second thoughts about a location at Jackson Avenue Park.

“The problem I’m worried about – that land is very much up in the air as to what’s going to be done with it,” said mayor Bob Jones, adding that he would “feel far more comfortable if we moved this idea down to the south part of Boyd Skinner (Park).”

The mayor wondered if two locations could be put on the grant application, instead of getting locked into one.

“I think we’re just really behind the eight ball if we really have to nail down a locations for this grant,”

“If we can show we really are committed as a town to really doing this, we might be able to squeak by and say, ‘Either this spot or this spot’ (on the application),” Lawrence said.

Murdock also wondered if the neighbors at the Boyd Skinner site had been notified. While the organizers had talked to neighbors around the Jackson Avenue Park location at the beginning of the year, they had not yet had the opportunity to touch base with property owners near the town’s new proposed site – but they said they’d be more than willing to do so.

The dog park group was also hoping to get a two-acre parcel but that, too, came up for discussion from the three members of the council in attendance last week – with councilwoman Nylla Kunard and councilman Tyler Swafford out of town.

“I think the reason we’re shooting for two acres, there’s going to be more maintenance if you’re smaller than that – too many animals and people in a small area,” said organizer Jessica Artz.

“Two football fields seem like a lot of space,” Murdock said, giving the approximate comparison of two acres.

“I almost think an acre is going to be too much for you guys,” echoed Brost.

Murdock looked at a map of the area and thought they might be able to squeeze out an acre at the south Boyd Skinner Park area, but that could also pose problems for the wetlands in the area, along with the “wildlife and birds.”

“The environmentalists and the EPA are going to be all over it,” Brost said.

The three members of the council ultimately agreed to write a letter of “general support” that would explain “multiple sites are available within the town limits,” and that the town would provide resources for the maintenance of the park – including mowing and trash service – as well as liability insurance.

“I like the idea of a dog park,” said Murdock. “I’m comfortable with you (Jones) signing a letter to do it.”

The vote was unanimous, 3-0, to provide the dog-park group with the letter.

In other news from the meeting:

  • The shorthanded council voted unanimously to pay its bills in the amount of $61,421.
  • The council voted to extend the hours of American Legion Park and waive fees for the BOCES’ Park after Dark movie nights.
  • The council authorized the mayor to sign off on a Federal Aviation Administration grant to acquire land for Ralph Wenz Airport south of Pinedale in the amount of $140,586.
  • The council agreed to move forward with a Wyoming Department of Transportation “Transportation Alternative Program” (TAP) grant, with an intention to use the money – about $225,000 – to move the pedestrian light from Lake Avenue over to the Lincoln Avenue area by American Legion Park. That would also tie it into the bike path that’s currently in the works that connects the elementary school with the rest of town, also being funded by a TAP grant.
  • The Pinedale Town Council’s next meeting will be Monday, June 26, at 6 p.m. in the Pinedale Library’s Lovatt Room.

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