Dogged determination: Lynda Fine still working to establish off-leash dog park

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By AJ Vicens

A plan to use part of a Foothills Park & Recreation District park for a dog park has run into some snags, but the woman behind the proposal is not giving up.

“It was a curve I wasn’t expecting, but that just pumps me up even more to get this done,” said Lynda Fine, who’s been trying since November 2008 to establish an off-leash dog park in the area. “We can’t just sit back and let this drag on.”

Fine wanted to turn about three-fourths of an acre of Sgt. Timothy M. Mossbrucker Memorial Park into a fenced dog park. The park is owned and operated by Foothills, and the district seemed willing to support the idea if Fine could raise the money to build the park and maintain it.

Ron Hopp, Foothills executive director, confirmed that the board of directors is “willing to support” the park as long as the district doesn’t have to pay for anything. But he said that particular piece of land won’t work.

“We thought we had a site that could work well,” Hopp said. “As we have done additional research on the appropriate size (of a dog park), we have come to the conclusion internally that we’d like to find a larger site.”

Hopp said he and his staff would like to find a piece of land attached to an existing Foothills facility, like a baseball field or larger park.

“We see it as a complement to existing facilities,” Hopp said.

Fine presented her idea to the district’s board of directors in early March.

“It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg thing,” Fine said. “The board doesn’t want to approve it until the money is in place, but I don’t want to go through all that work without knowing that it’s going to be a slam dunk.”

Foothills, which has had to cut back on services and operational costs in the face of a budget crunch, has told Fine that it will not fund any aspect of the dog park.

Fine isn’t sure how much it would cost to build the park, but she’s heard estimates ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than $200,000. Fine said if the land is provided, she would just need fencing, a few park benches and some trash cans.

For now, Fine is trying to form a nonprofit group to maintain the dog park. Hopp said Foothills would enter an agreement with the nonprofit and donate land once an adequate site is located.

Once Fine forms the nonprofit, she can seek grants to build the park.

And like a bulldog, Fine is determined to stick with it.

“It’s just not moving fast enough for myself,” Fine said. “But it’s coming along.”

Hopp said he wants to get it done as well.

“We feel that it would be an asset to the community,” Hopp said. “A lot of time patrons utilizing other park facilities have to deal with things like dog feces. If we could develop a site where dogs are welcome and people clean up after themselves, there’d be less pressure on the park system.”

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com. Contact Lynda Fine at Lynda.fine@comcast.net.