Monday, September 24, 2007
Dog Park Success!
Council to consider park funding
By Derek P. Jensen
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 09/18/2007 02:42:23 AM MDT
All summer, Mickelle Weber and her neighbors would walk to Pioneer Park to barbecue and play bocce ball on Sundays.
The downtown loft dwellers had two goals: enjoy some time in the green grass and reclaim the park from the derelicts and drug pushers.
Now the Salt Lake City Council is poised to give them another outside outlet at Pioneer. And this one is sure to draw traffic - especially the four-legged kind.
A new dog park, enclosed by an iron fence, is the latest amenity greenlighted to help rehabilitate the drug-infested park space. Tonight the council is expected to approve $77,000 for the canine haven, meaning dog lovers can join the Farmers Market crowd after the snow melts next year.
"I'm really excited," said Weber, who praised city officials for heeding the request. "There are so many dogs in this area. People will use it on a daily basis."
That's the idea, notes City Councilman Carlton Christensen.
"I don't think it's the cure-all for Pioneer Park," he said Monday, "but it certainly has the potential to be a positive addition."
For much of the summer, confusion reigned over whether the city would fund the pooch park, planned for the southeast quadrant of Pioneer. Christensen says the interest always remained solid, but that officials were waiting for a lower construction bid.
Meantime, a collection of downtown residents known by the moniker "Parktivities" put pressure on City Hall.
"We did a lot of work, and I think it paid off," Weber added. "It's very dangerous for those of us who live around here to have that critical mass of illegal activity. The dog park will help."
So will the spate of other improvements, according to Dell Cook, the city's project manager.
The city plans to spruce up the park's four corner entrances, including adding some lighting and new benches. There also will be a new pathway that circles Pioneer Park - modeled after Liberty Park - which Cook hopes will draw joggers, skaters and other people looking for recreation at lunch or after work.
"Hopefully it will be more of a neighborhood place," he said. "Our goal is to have the project done before the Farmers Market begins next June."
Overall, the city has designated $420,530 for Pioneer Park upgrades as part of its capital-improvement budget.
To pay for the makeover, the city sacrificed more elaborate lighting that once was considered.
Christensen notes fewer trees will be removed than originally feared to complete the work - a plan that now has the endorsement of the Historic Landmark Commission.
Doling out the capital cash
After debating the merits of various projects, the Salt Lake City Council is ready to approve $7.9 million toward the city's 10-year capital-improvement plan. Some highlights include:
* $750,000 to purchase property in the southwest quadrant of the city for a future fire station.
* $420,530 for upgrades at Pioneer Park.
* $375,000 for Jordan River Parkway improvements.
* $62,000 for lighting at the Fairmont skate park.
* $50,000 for dog-park improvements at Herman Franks and Cottonwood parks.
* $3.1 million for streets.
* $375,000 for cost overruns.