To anyone who knows me here in the neighborhood you will know that I have been working on the dog park in Pioneer Park for 8 months now-each time being told that it was a sure thing....you have signed petitions, gone to meetings, and written to your representatives....I am very sad to read this but apparently they have not taken us seriously or we haven't yelled loud enough.
This article, in the paper this morning, makes me angry, but I am not going to be defeated or ignored--I hope you will do the same--
After four years of planning, a Pioneer Park makeover finally could begin in October.
The renovation won't include a stage, new restrooms or a dog park - elements pushed by Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson - but it will include wide sidewalks for shoppers at the Downtown Farmers Market, 58 new trees (minus 16 old ones), two new entry plazas and a handful of benches.
Plans for this first phase need only the final approval of the Salt Lake City Historic Landmark Commission on Wednesday before the city can hire a contractor.
Dell Cook, the city's project manager, expects construction to be done before the 2008 Farmers Market opens next June.
About 8,000 people attend the popular market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"Right now, the Farmers Market tramples the grass to mud," Cook said. But a broad, new pathway is planned to ring the park's interior, providing space for farmers' carts - and for walkers and in-line skaters.
"That will facilitate less wear and tear on the park," Cook said. "It will help activate the park and make it a more friendly place for everybody every day."
Although a $73,000 dog park - lined by an iron fence - was supposed to be part of this first phase, Cook said money budgeted by the City Council won't stretch far enough. About $1.4 million, including a $500,000 federal grant, is currently available.
Still, the council's policy analyst, Jennifer Bruno, said more money could be added for a dog park when the council reviews its capital-improvements budget later this month.
Tony Caputo, who owns Tony Caputo's Market & Deli across the street from Pioneer Park, hopes the dog park is created.
"It puts legitimate use in the park seven days a week - not just on Saturdays. We need to get new people in that park," he said. "The crime there is not as bad as it was when we moved in [nine years ago], but it's certainly not a lot better."
Save for the Saturday Farmers Market and Friday night concerts, the problem-plagued park is frequently a hangout for hobos and drug addicts.
Bob Farrington, executive director of the Downtown Alliance, which organizes the Farmers Market, applauded the upgrades, but wished for future improvements
"We're glad to see attention placed on Pioneer Park," he said. "Our biggest things we have on our wish list are additional [electrical] power and bigger and better restrooms," which aren't included in this phase.
Salt Lake City Councilwoman Jill Remington Love expects the dog park and new restrooms to be funded - eventually. But the council probably will not endorse the more "elaborate" improvements proposed by the mayor, including a concessions building with an attached stage for outdoor concerts.
"We have some other outdoor venues in Library Square and the Gallivan Center that we're not 100 percent convinced we want to compete with ourselves on," she said. But "we all want it to be a park that is a nice amenity to our downtown."