Rita Valentine Dog Park

Rita Valentine Park has been an approved off-leash dog park since 2008. In the past year Steamboat Digs Dogs has rallied park users and the community to raise money for park improvements. They have also engaged landscape architects to explore several possible park improvements. One improvement that has already taken place is the installation of a drinking fountain, which was installed this past summer. Other improvements that are currently planned for the future, if funding becomes available, include an expanded and paved parking lot, a covered picnic shelter, trails, benches and fenced areas.

Currently the City and Steamboat Digs Dogs are pursuing fencing options for a portion of the park. The current conceptual park design developed by Steamboat Digs Dogs includes two phases, where phase one will include fencing approximately 15 acres of the 38 acre park. While some current park users don’t mind the lack of fencing, visitors have expressed concern over the lack of fencing, which many dog parks have. Fencing was also part of the original plans and intent of the park. Fencing portions of the park is identified in the Parks, Recreation, Open Space, Trails and River master plan, and after close observations and many community discussions during the off-leash trail period, the Parks and Recreation Commission has made providing a fenced dog park vs. off leash areas a priority. In addition, fencing portions of the park have been recommended by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to help mitigate conflicts between dogs and wildlife.

The proposed fence is one used in several other dog parks in Colorado. It is functional and not obtrusive in natural, open space areas. The City will be installing a small, temporary sample section of fencing in November of 2019, and is asking community members, neighbors, and park users to provide feedback. Let us know what you think of the proposed fencing by leaving your comments in the forum section below.

Rita Valentine Park has been an approved off-leash dog park since 2008. In the past year Steamboat Digs Dogs has rallied park users and the community to raise money for park improvements. They have also engaged landscape architects to explore several possible park improvements. One improvement that has already taken place is the installation of a drinking fountain, which was installed this past summer. Other improvements that are currently planned for the future, if funding becomes available, include an expanded and paved parking lot, a covered picnic shelter, trails, benches and fenced areas.

Currently the City and Steamboat Digs Dogs are pursuing fencing options for a portion of the park. The current conceptual park design developed by Steamboat Digs Dogs includes two phases, where phase one will include fencing approximately 15 acres of the 38 acre park. While some current park users don’t mind the lack of fencing, visitors have expressed concern over the lack of fencing, which many dog parks have. Fencing was also part of the original plans and intent of the park. Fencing portions of the park is identified in the Parks, Recreation, Open Space, Trails and River master plan, and after close observations and many community discussions during the off-leash trail period, the Parks and Recreation Commission has made providing a fenced dog park vs. off leash areas a priority. In addition, fencing portions of the park have been recommended by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to help mitigate conflicts between dogs and wildlife.

The proposed fence is one used in several other dog parks in Colorado. It is functional and not obtrusive in natural, open space areas. The City will be installing a small, temporary sample section of fencing in November of 2019, and is asking community members, neighbors, and park users to provide feedback. Let us know what you think of the proposed fencing by leaving your comments in the forum section below.

  • Fenced Dog Park Proposal Heading to Steamboat Parks and Rec Commission

    5 months ago
    Capture3

    Golfers, governments and other user groups have never had much luck building anything in Rita Valentine Park.

    Disc golfers had their short-lived course ripped up out of the ground after opposition from neighbors.

    Before them, golfers eyeing a nine-hole executive course and educators who thought the undeveloped park might be a site for a new school struck out too.

    And who can forget the angst and anger the city administration created in 2013 when balloons went up in a corner of Rita Valentine to show an imaginary shell of police station situated in a corner of the park?

    On Wednesday,...

    Golfers, governments and other user groups have never had much luck building anything in Rita Valentine Park.

    Disc golfers had their short-lived course ripped up out of the ground after opposition from neighbors.

    Before them, golfers eyeing a nine-hole executive course and educators who thought the undeveloped park might be a site for a new school struck out too.

    And who can forget the angst and anger the city administration created in 2013 when balloons went up in a corner of Rita Valentine to show an imaginary shell of police station situated in a corner of the park?

    On Wednesday, a group trying to make Steamboat Springs more dog friendly will start to find out whether they might be more successful than those who have tried to claim a piece of the park before them.

    The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission is going to weigh in on a proposal to develop a large, off-leash dog park at Rita Valentine that would include 4,000 linear feet of fencing, expanded parking lots and the introduction of trees to provide shade.

    There won’t be debates about siren noises, buildings blocking the view of Sleeping Giant or Frisbees hitting hikers.

    This time around, the dog advocates think the debate will likely center on the fencing.

    The dog park meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Citizens Hall.

    “To me, I still think the biggest issue is going to be to fence, or not to fence,” Steamboat Digs Dogs spokeswoman Kathy Connell said.

    Connell acknowledged there are some neighbors who are against adding fencing to what is currently a large tract of open, undeveloped land that offers views of Sleeping Giant and Mount Werner.

    Connell said the 4-foot-high fencing would help protect wildlife from unwanted confrontations with off-leash dogs.

    Steamboat Digs Dogs estimates their entire dog park concept at Rita Valentine would cost $592,897.

    Connell said the group currently has about $45,000 in commitments from private donors, plus $7,000 already in the bank in the form of an endowment.

    In addition, the group has Steamboat resident John Lanterman, a landscape architect and park planner, working for free on the park concept and design.

    If the Parks and Recreation Commission and then the City Council endorse the plan, Steamboat Digs Dogs thinks the project would be a good candidate for grant funding.

    “Once we know what the plan is, we’ll continue like crazy with fundraising,” Connell said.

    The plan envisions the planting of new trees, including cottonwoods and Evergreens, to provide some shade that doesn’t currently exist in the park.

    A walking and cycling path would run outside of the fenced-in area at the park.

    The city itself does not have money in its budget to fund such a park.

    City officials estimate even if it was privately funded, it would cost the city $10,000 to $20,000 a year to maintain the park.

    Connell said the group is open to constructing the park in phases, with the fencing, water fountain and parking improvements coming first.

  • Dog Park Improvements at Rita Valentine Get Support from Parks and Rec Commission

    5 months ago
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    Residents who are trying to make Steamboat Springs more dog-friendly secured another victory last week when the city’s parks and recreation commission endorsed a concept for dog park improvements at Rita Valentine Park.

    The commission did not sign off on Steamboat Digs Dogs’ entire vision for Rita Valentine, which included a fence and bigger parking lots.

    Some commissioners said they weren’t in favor of the fencing, and some residents who attended a hearing on the proposal also expressed concerns about it.

    Instead, the commission expressed support for a first phase that would add a water source, benches, shade and dog...

    Residents who are trying to make Steamboat Springs more dog-friendly secured another victory last week when the city’s parks and recreation commission endorsed a concept for dog park improvements at Rita Valentine Park.

    The commission did not sign off on Steamboat Digs Dogs’ entire vision for Rita Valentine, which included a fence and bigger parking lots.

    Some commissioners said they weren’t in favor of the fencing, and some residents who attended a hearing on the proposal also expressed concerns about it.

    Instead, the commission expressed support for a first phase that would add a water source, benches, shade and dog waste containers to the park, a portion of which already serves as an off-leash dog park.

    Some of the bigger ticket items will be considered in later phases.

    Commissioner Doug Tumminello cautioned the dog group that without outside funding and a maintenance agreement with Steamboat Digs Dogs or another private entity, he doesn’t think the park has a chance to actually be built.

    “There’s not room in the city budget for city staff to take on maintenance responsibilities” at a dog park, Tumminello said.

    He added the project would likely rank low on the city’s capital improvement budget.

    The commission has in the past endorsed other plans for parks that have been collecting dust on shelves due to a lack of city funding.

    Steamboat Digs Dogs has reportedly gathered more than $50,000 in financial commitments toward the park.

    It has also found a warm reception from the parks and rec commission.

    “I feel like this is a good working relationship that will continue,” Commissioner Sarah Floyd said.

    Now Steamboat Digs Dogs will turn their attention to the Steamboat Springs City Council, which will ultimately decide whether to act on the commission’s recommendations.

    The council on Tuesday will start by weighing in on a proposal to create new off-leash areas for dogs at Whistler Park, Blackmere Drive and the Lower Spring Creek Trail.

    If approved, off-leash areas in the city limits would go from just two to five.

    The off-leash areas would be approved on a trial basis.

    City officials estimate it would cost about $800 to install eight signs at the new off-leash areas.

    The three new off-leash areas were unanimously endorsed by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

  • Steamboat City Council to Weigh in on Dog Park Plan Tuesday Night

    5 months ago
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    STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The future of a Steamboat Springs park that several user groups and governments have tried to lay claim to over the years could finally become clear next week.

    The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday will decide whether to endorse a plan to build an improved off-leash dog park in Rita Valentine Park.

    Dog advocates want to enlarge the parking lot and add new benches, shading trees, water fountains and compostable dog poop bag stations in the park.

    The plans also call for new trails within the park as well as connecting trails hikers and cyclists could...

    STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The future of a Steamboat Springs park that several user groups and governments have tried to lay claim to over the years could finally become clear next week.

    The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday will decide whether to endorse a plan to build an improved off-leash dog park in Rita Valentine Park.

    Dog advocates want to enlarge the parking lot and add new benches, shading trees, water fountains and compostable dog poop bag stations in the park.

    The plans also call for new trails within the park as well as connecting trails hikers and cyclists could use.

    The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously endorsed the first phase of the conceptual dog park plan earlier this year. But members of Steamboat Digs Dogs have felt leashed while they’ve waited for the council to also approve it.

    “We’re getting ready to apply for grants, but we’re kind of stuck until we get some approvals for the concepts” from the council, Steamboat Digs Dogs spokeswoman Kathy Connell said Friday. “Now is the time to get it done. We’re enthused.”

    Connell said the group also has several donors lined up ready to pitch in money and labor to make the improved dog park a reality.

    Steamboat Digs Dogs has agreed to fund and maintain the park improvements with private donations and contributions.

    The group recently set up an endowment fund to help fund the dog park vision.

    If council approves the concept on Tuesday, Connell said the group would start working on designs for the larger parking lot at the park.

    Construction of the new amenities at the dog park would then start in the spring.

    While Steamboat Digs Dogs has gained support from the parks and rec commission for the first phase, the commission was not on board with a proposal to put fencing around the dog park.

    Steamboat Digs Dogs would have to get approval for later phases of the park as the plans develop.

    The dog park proposal is the ninth item on the council’s Tuesday night agenda.

    The meeting starts at 5 p.m. in Citizens Hall.

    Before the dog advocates proposed their park improvements, parts of the park off nestled between Hilltop Parkway and Anglers Drive have been sought after by disc golf players, golfers, the Steamboat Springs School District and the city government itself.

    The city’s proposal in 2013 to build a police station on a corner of the park was quickly shelved after it faced intense community opposition.

    Prior to that, the park was eyed as a place for a new school or an executive golf course.


  • City, Steamboat Digs Dogs Take Steps to Fence Rita Valentine Park

    5 months ago
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    STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In a move Steamboat Digs Dogs President Kathy Connell called “one small step for dog kind,” the city of Steamboat Springs and the local group will work on a plan for improvements at Rita Valentine Park, including building a fenced dog park.

    On Tuesday, the Steamboat Springs City Council directed staff to formalize an agreement with Steamboat Digs Dogs to identify funding for improvements and maintenance responsibilities at the dog park, which is located off Anglers Drive.

    City Council also agreed to sign off on Steamboat Digs Dogs’ request to convert its endowed fund to a capital...

    STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In a move Steamboat Digs Dogs President Kathy Connell called “one small step for dog kind,” the city of Steamboat Springs and the local group will work on a plan for improvements at Rita Valentine Park, including building a fenced dog park.

    On Tuesday, the Steamboat Springs City Council directed staff to formalize an agreement with Steamboat Digs Dogs to identify funding for improvements and maintenance responsibilities at the dog park, which is located off Anglers Drive.

    City Council also agreed to sign off on Steamboat Digs Dogs’ request to convert its endowed fund to a capital fund, which will allow the organization to use that money for new construction.

    Connell is excited because she believes getting the project off the ground will get people engaged in improving dog infrastructure in the city. She said in parks, such as Whistler, where she’s seeing more community engagement with Steamboat Digs Dogs volunteers and Animal Control officers, she’s also noticing fewer abandoned piles of poo.

    “We’re trying to really up the quality of dog ownership and dog responsibility,” Connell said. “In order to do that, we have to engage the community, not enrage them. That’s kind of a theme of Steamboat Digs Dogs.”

    Steamboat Digs Dogs’ conceptual design for the Rita Valentine Park is split into two phases. Phase 1 would include fencing about 15 acres of the 38-acre park, enlarging the parking lot, adding waste receptacles, water and benches and improving the trails at an estimated cost of $169,483. Phase 2 is still under development but would include additional fencing, shelters and trails at an estimated cost of $126,312.

    What they can get done depends on the funding, Connell said. She said Steamboat Digs Dogs’ first priorities are improving parking and adding a water feature. Park visitors frequently park in the surrounding neighborhood, causing problems for those who live there.

    “In this process, we’ve always wanted to walk before we run,” she said. “The park is really utilized now — heavily utilized — so we have to look at the impacts of the increased people, and we have to be extremely sensitive to the neighbors.”

    Connell said the water feature has already been purchased, and Steamboat Digs Dogs hopes to get it installed after the snow melts and before summer hits.

    Conceptual design courtesy of the city of Steamboat Springs.

    Steamboat Digs Dogs has about $65,000 in its endowed fund at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, which is slated to be shifted into a capital fund. The organization has an additional $28,586 in other accounts, according to the presentation shown in Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

    On the city’s side, staff would seek grants for the project and request funding through the capital improvement project process, according to the presentation. There is also about $25,000 in revenue collected from animal code violations that has been set aside to be used on dog park improvements.

    Through the agreement, the city and Steamboat Digs Dogs will work through the maintenance of the park and the new amenities.

    “We recognize that, and we are willing to participate in the maintenance of things, but there are some things that we humbly believe are a city function,” Connell said.

    Connell said she hopes Steamboat Digs Dogs will take the lead on building and maintaining the dog-related elements, such as poop dispensers and the gravel that will serve as an entryway into the park.

    To view the city council’s discussion on this topic, visit docs.steamboatsprings.net:10100/OnBaseAgendaOnline/.


  • City, Steamboat Digs Dogs Agree to Fence Rita Valentine Park - Steamboat Today

    5 months ago
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    The city of Steamboat Springs and Steamboat Digs Dogs have signed off on an agreement that would eventually see Rita Valentine Park developed into a fenced dog park.

    “This is another great step for the dogs in the community of Steamboat,” Kathy Connell, president of Steamboat Digs Dogs, said.

    The park has been designated an off-leash dog park since 2008, though it has remained mostly open space with two picnic tables and a few trails cut through the grass.

    Under the new agreement, the city has agreed to partner with Steamboat Digs Dogs on grant requests to fund improvements to...

    The city of Steamboat Springs and Steamboat Digs Dogs have signed off on an agreement that would eventually see Rita Valentine Park developed into a fenced dog park.

    “This is another great step for the dogs in the community of Steamboat,” Kathy Connell, president of Steamboat Digs Dogs, said.

    The park has been designated an off-leash dog park since 2008, though it has remained mostly open space with two picnic tables and a few trails cut through the grass.

    Under the new agreement, the city has agreed to partner with Steamboat Digs Dogs on grant requests to fund improvements to the park. Digs Dogs will be responsible for funding these improvements and maintaining dog-related facilities in the park, including snow removal around a future entry gate, keeping up with dog waste bags and replacing these amenities when they fail. The city will pay for water and trash removal at the park and maintain the parking lot, future bathrooms and fencing.

    “It’s obviously a very high need for our community,” said Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby. “The Parks and Recreation Commission has discussed it very in-depth, and all parties are coming to the table saying ‘Yes, we need a fenced-in dog park.’ This is the next step in getting that fenced dog park, so we can take care of our wildlife. We can take care of our pets, and we can give owners a place to recreate as well.”

    Improvements to the park

    The city and Digs Dogs aim to improve the park in phases as funding is available. Even within the phases, Steamboat Digs Dogs aims to tackle some projects that are already in motion first.

    “We’re looking at grant dollars as being a major contributor to completing this park,” Parks, Open Space and Trails Manager Craig Robinson said. “The bigger bang for the buck would be to try to accomplish the entire park vision — the majority of the amenities — in one fell swoop, but if the funding and grant options don’t allow for that, we’ll have to do that in different phases.”

    This summer, Connell said they plan to install a water fountain for both humans and pooches surrounded by pavers, gravel to the park’s dirt area and at least one more dog waste bag dispenser.

    The remaining elements of phase 1 include a shade structure, more trees, additional signage and maps, more waste bag dispensers and additional trash bags. A perimeter fence and an interior fenced space for little dogs are also included in phase 1. Connell said fencing would likely start at the southern edge of the park, with the aim of preventing conflicts between dogs and wildlife.

    Phase 2 would include an additional shade structure, a bathroom and gravel on trails in the park.

    The conceptual plan for the off-leash dog park calls for fencing around Rita Valentine Park.
    Courtesy/John Lanterman

    In fencing the dog park and improving parking at Rita Valentine, Connell said Steamboat Digs Dogs would be able to host programs that might be able to offset the cost of caring for some of the park’s amenities, such as training programs or a mixed-breed dog show. She also believes with a better park, people will be more willing to take care of and steward the public facilities at a park.

    Both entities plan to pay for the park using grant funds and money raised by Steamboat Digs Dogs. Steamboat Digs Dogs is working to convert an endowed fund to a capital fund to win matching grant money for the improvements. Once these amenities are built, the remaining money will be converted into an endowed fund to help pay for maintenance.

    The city can choose to contribute to the cost of construction but is not obligated to under the agreement.

    “The city is committing to supporting and writing grants and helping find that type of funding but isn’t currently committing to provide general fund dollars or capital fund dollars,” Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby said.

    The city estimates that at full build out the new amenities would require an additional $25,685 annually to maintain. Cosby said this is the “low end” of what it costs to maintain a dog park, and that’s because of Digs Dogs’ contribution to helping maintain dog-related improvements.

    In the meantime, and after improvements get rolling, Parks and Recreation staff hope dog owners will respect other users in areas where off-leash dogs are allowed and obey leash laws where they aren’t.

    “Please pick up your poop,” Cosby said. “And if you enjoy using Rita Valentine Dog Park, please consider contributing to the fundraising efforts by Steamboat Digs Dogs.”