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Stapleton dog-park architect EDAW has signed on to design Riverfront's playpen for pups and will unveil some initial ideas at a public meeting on July 21 at 1610 Little Raven Street, where the discussion will also focus on how to raise funds so that the park can open by 2006. As creative as EDAW may be, however, the facility will still have to adhere to the Denver parks department's off-leash guidelines, which were developed last year in connection with a one-year pilot program that turned portions of five Denver parks into off-leash areas ("The Straight Poop," April 3, 2003).

"City councilwoman Judy Montero did approach us and heavily lobbied us for a dog park in downtown," says Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Tiffany Moehring. "In the pilot year, we wanted to stick with the five, but there was such community support that we did look at alternatives that would not be managed by us. The site they're looking at is city land, but they're looking at fully developing it with funds raised by the community. We do want to accommodate their request, and we'll be very involved."

One of the reasons department manager Kim Bailey is looking favorably on the East West request is the relatively problem-free status of the temporary dog parks. "We have had very few issues, if any at all, with our pilot off-leash program," Moehring says. "Things have come up that we have been able to address, nothing that says they're not working or that they're not a success. In terms of turf, in the Kentucky bluegrass areas, we're seeing quite a bit of wear on the grass, but in some of our native areas that aren't cultured at all, they seem to take the use a lot better. But the turf is a lot rougher on the dogs' paws."

While Riverfront's turf type is still up for debate, considering the fancy-shmancy location of the proposed park, it's not surprising that Fuller and other members of the committee -- which includes Montero and representatives from Denver's parks department and Division of Animal Control -- are thinking of at least one grand gesture. "We'd like to have some interesting formations," Fuller says. "We'd like to have some interesting sculptural elements to it, too."

"Stapleton put a fire hydrant in the center of the park, with dirt around it to get the dogs to pee on it and leave the grass alone," says Park Place resident, dog owner and Riverfront Community Dog Matters Group member Travis Roth. "That could be replaced with a piece of art if the artist had a lot of confidence in their work -- since they would basically be designing something to be peed on."

Scene and herd: Denver Public Schools superintendent Jerry Wartgow surprised most Board of Education members when he arrived at the June 24 meeting wearing a black-and-yellow zoot suit, complete with pachuco chain and pheasant-tail-festooned hat. But member-at-large Theresa Peñawasn't shocked: Her brother, Craig Peña, had supplied the threads when Wartgow wandered into Suavecito's, his Santa Fe Drive shop, earlier in the day with North High School principal Darlene LeDoux.... Former mayoral candidate Don Mares is out soliciting business for Fleishman & Shapiro, the law firm he landed with after losing the runoff election in June 2003 to John Hickenlooper. You can find his business cards at Mikey's Italian Bistro at West 38th Avenue and Quitman Street, stacked between cards for Danika Stromberg, Independent Beauty Consultant for Mary Kay, and Belly Dance Duo Suzara & Devina. Turns out that Mares is a regular customer, a fan of the Southern Italian dishes of restaurateur Alaya OuerfelliŠ. The Fanta Girlsseem to be everywhere, including local movie screens, where they sing "Do you wanta Fanta" during the previews. But don't make the mistake of confusing them with the Smirnoff Vodka Girls, even though both babelicious sets dress in shocking-colored miniskirts with matching wigs. Asked if they were the Fanta Girls when they dropped by the Minturn Saloon one day last week, the clear-liquor ones snarked, "Uh, we're the Smirnoff Girls, can't you tell?"

Uh, no.

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