Editorial:

With dogs expelled from school grounds, a dog park makes sense

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When a pair of dog lovers approached the City of Powell last spring with a proposal for a dog park within our city limits, the idea was met with vehement opposition from residents whose property bordered the proposed site.

Whitlock Park, a little-used stretch of grass on Powell’s southeastern edge, was only mentioned as a possibility. However, those who live in the area cited decreased property values, noise, odor and parking concerns as just a few of the reasons the park was a bad idea, at least in that location. The city agreed to explore other options, and with that, the idea for a dog park in Powell seemed to be put on the back burner.

A recent decision by Park County School District No. 1, however, may change all that. After repeated concerns and complaints registered by parents and school employees alike regarding animal waste on school property, the district decided enough was enough: As of Thursday, all pets are banned from school grounds.

“We certainly want to be good neighbors and want to welcome people to our schools,” said Rob McCray, support services coordinator for the district. “But it’s just like your house — you wouldn’t want neighbors to let their dogs poop in your yard and then you have to clean it up or your kids play in it. It’s no different for us.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Because a few dog owners can’t be bothered to pick up after the dogs they allow to run free on school playgrounds — despite posted signs reminding them to do exactly that — the areas in town where responsible owners can take their pets for a walk or run just got significantly smaller.

Suddenly, the idea of a dog park doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Reaction on social media to the school district’s ban would seem to indicate that local interest in a dog park does exist, as does a desire by residents to hear what building one might entail. The success of the Beck Lake dog park in Cody has proved that it can work in a smaller community, and with the option of taking your pet to a local school to stretch its legs now off the table, folks will be looking for other alternatives.

We hope the idea for a local dog park is one the city continues to pursue. Since it’s not always convenient to load up your pup and drive out of town for a little exercise, having a place in town where owners can gather and socialize with their neighbors and their dogs just makes sense. As with any project, a dog park would take time, from gaining city approval, to finding a location, to securing funding, so it’s not something that would happen overnight. We hope the park advocates who first approached the city council with the concept in April are still willing to help make it a reality, and encourage like-minded pet owners to do the same.

But regardless of if or when the idea of a dog park comes to fruition, please be responsible, and pick up after your pets.

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