Denver will try off-leash dog park where dogs were off-leash anyway

That’s the new tactic that Denver is trying with all you scoffpaws who let your dogs run wild in Speer Boulevard Park.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Legalize it.

That’s the new tactic that Denver seems to be trying with all you scoffpaws who let your dogs run wild in Speer Boulevard Park.

This stretch of green space near Cherry Creek has for years been a gathering spot for dog owners who want to let their dogs off the leash without all the hassle of going to a dog park.

Starting this Friday, Sept. 1, the city of Denver will designate a grassy creekside area near Confluence Park as a temporary off-leash area. The “pop-up park” will be in effect through Dec. 31 during normal park hours.

In fairness, it’s not that the city is simply surrendering to the rule-breakers. Instead, this is an experiment to see whether a dog park might be a good use of the space, according to the parks department.

A temporary off-leash dog area planned for Speer Boulevard Park. (City of Denver)

A temporary off-leash dog area planned for Speer Boulevard Park. (City of Denver)

Anyway, this might be as decent a spot as any to try a dog park. I’ve never seen anyone doing much of anything on its grassy lawn, which is hemmed in by train tracks and Cherry Creek, standing just below Speer Boulevard. Folks on foot will still be able to get around it on the Speer sidewalk.

The experiment is part of the “Outdoor Downtown” plan for green and outdoor spaces around downtown.

“It’s going to help give us the data, the feedback that we need to maybe explore the idea of something more permanent,” said Mark Bernstein, downtown area planner for Denver parks.

Converting existing parkland to new recreational uses, he said, is one way to keep pace with the area’s changing demands.

“Half of the downtown core is in a park desert. That’s coupled with the fact that we just don’t have financial resources to expand our land,” he said. “We’re essentially forced into a situation where we need to start thinking more innovatively.”

The city also is opening a permanent dog park at the Carla Madison Rec Center in December. It’s also adding fencing and generally rehabilitating the Berkeley dog park.

By the way: The city of Denver does enforce its off-leash dog rules, handing out $80 fines for the first paw-fense. Legend has it that an enforcer named Jane patrols the area near Confluence.

Are you a person who lets their dog off leash in public? Are you a person annoyed by such persons? Do you prefer cats? Email me.