Pet park becomes permanent |

Pet park becomes permanent

Scott N. Miller

It’s official: Stephens Park in West Vail is now leash-free.

After a year-long experiment, a more permanent leash-free status was bestowed on a portion of the park by the Vail Town Council Tuesday. In voting to establish a leash-free zone, members cited the success of Bighorn Park in East Vail over the past year, as well as the apparent care taken by those using the West Vail facility.

Council member Farrow Hitt said he had walked around the park Tuesday morning, and saw just a few examples of people who hadn’t picked up after their dogs. “Overall it was very clean,” he said. Police Chief Dwight Henninger noted that there have been no reported dog bites at either park.

Not everyone was entirely receptive to the idea of a leash-free area at the park.

“Since the park has been leash-free, the whole area is leash-free,” said West Vail resident Linda Delaria. Delaria added that several large, aggressive dogs routinely run off-leash through that part of the Intermountain neighborhood. She added she doesn’t use the park, preferring instead to walk her dog elsewhere.

Fellow resident Mary Brooke said she doesn’t use the park, either. “I’m for the park, but it’s the whole neighborhood,” she said, adding that her own dog has been attacked a few times over the past several months.

Both Delaria and Brooke said they had placed several calls to Eagle County Animal Control with no response.

Hitt advised the women to keep after animal control, adding that he and his neighbors have had the same problems in the Matterhorn neighborhood. “We finally got animal control to leave a cage for us,” said Hitt. “They’ll come when there’s a dog in it.”

Town Attorney Matt Mire added only a portion of Stephens Park is designated for free-running dogs, and that the park’s pavilion, as well as the entire playground area on the south side of Gore Creek, still require pets to be leashed. He also noted that all the town’s other animal control regulations – including those regulating large and aggressive dogs – still apply at the park.

Support Local Journalism