Commentary

Letters to the Editor

Page 3 of 4

As late winter and early spring are perhaps the worse times to view the urban landscape -- due to trash accumulation from the winter, dry conditions, the pasty look of the ground -- I encourage you to take another look in early summer, when the perennials and shrubs are blooming and everything has greened up a bit.

Michael Thornton
via the Internet


Doody Calls

Bark in the park: Regarding Amy Haimerl's "The Straight Poop," in the April 3 issue:

Okay, think of your dog as a lethal weapon. Your car is a lethal weapon. You license, insure and maintain your car. You must be of a certain age and pass a test in order to have a license to operate your car. You must prove that you have insurance in order to register your car, and you used to have to prove that you maintained your car by getting a brake-and-lights certificate.

I propose that we apply the same rules to our dogs. I would pay extra for a license that would allow me to walk my dog off-leash in any Denver city park. I have a comprehensive and personal liability insurance policy with a limit of $100,000 that covers everything from dog bites to bar fights that I can show proof of. My dog is current in his vaccinations, and I can provide proof of that. I am responsible for my dog's actions and will sign a waiver to that effect.

This is an option that will raise revenue that can be used for the Denver Dumb Friends League or a spay-and-neuter program. This option will allow me to walk my dog in my neighborhood park, where my dog and I know the other dogs and their owners. This option is also less costly than the plan to install fences in areas of existing parks, to the tune of approximately $50,000 per enclosure. This option will not create scars such as the ones that will be created if we install dog runs in our parks.

Go check out the off-leash park in Aurora on Quincy. It is dirt, dirt and more dirt. I propose that we designate certain hours that dogs can be off-leash in all parks. How about early morning, late evening and any time the temperature drops below 32 degrees? If we realistically approach the issue, we can make it a win-win situation for us all. Let's think outside the box, not just copy other programs. We're a world-class city! Let's be innovative! Lead the pack! Don't just follow!

Paula Saraceno
Denver

Cheesman bark: As president of DenFIDOS and a Cheesman Park resident, I write regarding "The Straight Poop," Amy Haimerl's story about the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation's proposal for an off-leash dog area there.

DenFIDOS wants to emphasize that we, too, recognize Cheesman Park as one of the "crown jewels" of Denver's park system, and we want to keep it that way. Because of the actions of responsible dog owners who don't want to lose the privilege of off-leash areas, parks with such areas actually tend to have less dog waste in them than do other parks. DenFIDOS already has shown significant commitment in this regard by organizing volunteer "poop patrols," and we have pledged to continue to do so in all off-leash areas.

Additionally, designating a specific off-leash area in Cheesman's north meadow will separate dogs from other park users by several hundred feet -- a much safer alternative to the current use of the heavily populated south meadow by the longstanding "renegade dog runners" noted in Ms. Haimerl's article. Moreover, an off-leash area in the north meadow would increase use of the park's north end by law-abiding citizens, thus reducing the amount of criminal activity that currently goes on there.

I do want to clarify one point in the article suggesting that DenFIDOS "would prefer that any dog parks be fenced." Actually, while we support fencing in certain parks and circumstances, we also believe that in others it may create as many problems as it solves. Dedicating an area within a park to a single use and foreclosing that area to any other use may be even more objectionable to more people. Cheesman illustrates this wonderfully: By simply restricting off-leash use to clearly defined times of day outside times of peak usage, the proposed area could be left open to general non-dog use at all other times.

One of the real strengths of the Parks and Rec proposal is that it distributes off-leash areas throughout the city, thereby ensuring that no single park becomes a destination for dogs from distant areas of the city. If Cheesman is not part of the proposal as implemented, people and their dogs from this area will be forced to drive to other parks to take advantage of off-leash privileges. This will exacerbate Denver's already unbearable traffic problems, as well as subject other off-leash areas to significantly increased use and damage, thus setting up the entire proposal for failure.

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