Talent considers dog park

TALENT — The City Council has approved a Parks Commission recommendation to locate a temporary dog park on land just north of the police station at 604 Talent Ave. Before the park becomes reality, planning commissioners must hold a public hearing and approve use of the site for a dog park.

"The land-use application has to be approved first," said City Manager Jay Henry. "It would be great if we got this going and completed by this summer, but I don't know that it will happen that quickly."

Planning commissioners probably will hear the issue in March or April, said City Planner Mark Knox. Among issues they'll consider could be parking, screening of the site and trash receptacles, he said.

"I've been on the (parks) commission since 2002," said Darby Stricker. "At my very first meeting, there was a group asking for a dog park. Everyone I've talked to about it is excited."

Commissioners considered both the approved 18,200-square-foot site and a 39,600-square-foot area north of City Hall adjacent to the railroad tracks. Either site is considered temporary because the city's master parks plan calls for a larger dog park on a 20-acre parcel south of Suncrest Road along Bear Creek when that area is developed.

"I think it would be reasonable to believe that we would have it as long as it would take to get Suncrest developed," said Stricker. "We do see that Talent is growing and will want to have a bigger dog park."

The approved site now is used by BMX riders and includes more than a dozen dirt jumps. But the land has never been formally designated for that purpose and is not part of the parks system.

Economic factors also influenced the Commission's recommendation.

"We chose the police department location not just because the initial cost was less but also maintenance costs will be less," said Stricker. "We need to be financially prudent in these difficult times."

City staff projected a cost of $15,500 to develop the Talent Avenue site. Costs at the City Hall site were placed at $23,800, pushed up by $3,100 needed to establish a parking area, plus greater fencing and irrigation needs. Patrons would be able to park on Rogue River Parkway or in the lot at Chuck Roberts Park.

Work at the site will include erosion control, excavation, clearing and installation of a dog watering station. The area will be surrounded with 600 feet of four-foot-tall fencing and it will be seeded.

Funds for the work will probably come from system development charges for park creation that are assessed on new buildings. Most work will be performed by city crews, but outside contractors may be used on some aspects, said Henry.

Mayor Don Steyskal said he wished the site was larger but that he favored the proposal because there is a need for a dog park in Talent.

Police Chief Mike Moran said parking at the police station was his only concern with the location. He asked that additional signs be installed to clarify where users can park.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.

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