Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Taking a stand for Dog Freedom in Salt Lake City

Tonight 18 people spoke to the Salt Lake City Council on behalf of maintaining Parley’s Historic Nature Park as it is: A dog park.

Another 18 to 30 people showed up and filled out comment cards to join in opposition to Mayor Becker’s bureaucratic proposal to impose severe restrictions on dogs in the park.

The passion people feel for this park was palpable.

One woman broke down into tears after speaking eloquently about the park. It hit her as to what a loss it would be to her entire family if they couldn’t use Parley’s the way they use it now.

This park is that important to many of us and we all shared her feelings at such a prospect.

Thanks to everyone who came tonight! It was an important step in the right direction, but we are just beginning to get our message out.

A City Council meeting is a formal setting. The primary purpose of the 7 PM Tuesday meetings is for the Council to listen to the public.

For those of us that stayed the full session, we were not finished until 9, well over an hour beyond the previous two times I’ve gone.

The full Council was there as was Mayor Becker.

Becker comes to these meetings as a listener. With a group of passionate Parley’s Park people there--often taking verbal shots at him--Becker gamely sat through it all. I thanked him for listening when I spoke. It never seemed like he wanted to listen to us at the meetings he’s been in charge of.

Now is the time to keep the pressure on. There is only one more opportunity to speak to the Council this month.

Becker’s proposal is an outrage, especially since we just went through this fight three years ago (and won). It’s also an outrage because we need more open space for dogs not less.

It’s inexplicable how Becker went from the Council vote of 2007 declaring Parley’s a legal off-leash park to paying a consultant $100,000 to recommend that the park become an on-leash space with half of it off limits to dogs entirely!

The amount of the consultant’s fee was confirmed informally by a member of the Council. We still don’t know the precise amount, but it appears to have been at least $100k.

This is the American West, a place with abundant open space. There is even abundant space in and near our urban environment, but Parley’s is the last park of its kind in a valley where it is becoming tougher and tougher to take your dog where he or she can run free.

Parley’s is a community within our community and it was refreshing tonight to hear so many people let the Council know how important the park is to them. Such personal statements have an impact.

Please join us next Tuesday, June 8th, to continue to drive home the message for Dog Freedom and save this park which is an urban gem in the Salt Lake Valley.

Both photos by Bill Allard, taken at Parley's Park. The bird is a Western Tanager. Dog lover's appreciate the abundance of other species at Parley's and long time park users know that dogs have minimal impact on other species--far far less impact than direct human impact on species in the Salt Lake Valley.

Want to read more? Read about my May 18th encounter with Mayor Becker.


Pippa said...

Keep up the fight!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim.
Just want to say thanks so much for all your efforts and compassion for this issue. While I personally do not use the park I have many friends that do, and clearly understand the importance open space for pets/dogs within our local community. Pet owners and areas for pets are continually being squeezed out by non-pet persons complaints, eventually becoming non-existent. Or, dog open space get re-defined to a 200'x200' dirt pen. As a society, we tend to take these issues to extremes, and one persons complaint (valid or not) can destroy it for everyone. The argument seems littered with bias and unfairness, and I am hugely disappointed to see Becker's knee-jerk reaction to backing this issue. To squeeze out dog/pet open spaces in the community is not only offensive it's very discriminatory towards pet owners.

Again, thanks for your hard work with this issue.
Kimberly Kraan