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Salt Lake City plans to move forward with a one-year trial of staggered pilot programs for off-leash dog parks at seven different sites – one in each council district – and will move forward on three requests for traditional off-leash dog parks.
These three traditional off-leash areas were requested for Rosewood, Fairmont and Rotary Glen parks.
The city resolution providing guidelines for creating off-leash public spaces has been in place since 2004, but was called into question during a City Council work session Tuesday.
Councilman Stan Penfold said at the beginning of an hour-long discussion that the resolution is so "specific and unique" that it no longer meets the city's needs.
"The demand seems to have changed," Penfold said. "And I don't think our resolution process equips us to keep up with the demand."
However after some discussion, Penfold and others who opposed parts of the resolution said they would be open to the idea of working with it in order to form more appropriate guidelines in the future.
Councilmembers requested that Public Services Director Rick Graham draft proposals for the seven different off-leash pilot sites, the first of which will include part of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
What makes the pilot sites different than traditional ones is that they will only be off-leash areas at specific times of the day.
Councilwoman Lisa Adam's suggested the tentative plan to stagger pilot programs, meant to ease some of the burden placed on Graham as well as enable lawmakers to reevaluate the set-up of each new off-leash park based on findings in previous pilots.
Graham felt "a little nervous" with the responsibility of choosing sites in each district, but the council asked him to move forward and present his ideas before the council for more specific feedback.
It was suggested that the city not enforce pilot programs strictly at the beginning of the trial periods to allow residents time to adjust to changes.
Graham said at first, the city would likely distribute existing officers differently, who might go into overtime while giving more attention to the new areas. If the demand is great enough, they would consider hiring additional officers to patrol the areas.
Councilman Charlie Luke said he wants to focus on public engagement with the project, possibly inviting community members to participate in official meetings.
Having leaders and residents speak at the same meetings could "help streamline" the process, Luke said.
The county has attempted implementing similar off-leash programs in unincorporated areas in the past but failed to gain support from residents.
Salt Lake City leaders seemed willing to back the project financially and requested that Graham come up with estimates of costs the city would need to cover, including the installation of additional trash bag stations and law enforcement.