Salt Lake County seeks input on plans for three proposed dog parks amid ‘skyrocketing’ demand

(Scott Sommerdorf | Tribune file photo) Dogs, and dog owners enjoy themselves at the dog park inside Herman Franks Park on 700 E. near 1300 South, Aug. 25, 2016. Salt Lake County is looking at establishing three new dog parks and wants residents to weigh in.

Salt Lake County is accepting feedback on the site plans for three new, five-to-10 acre dog parks it hopes will fill a “skyrocketing” demand in the area.

Plans on the county’s website imagine the future dog parks at Wardle Fields Regional Park in Bluffdale, Lodestone Regional Park in Kearns and the future Magna Regional Park with dog wash and waste stations as well as features designed for pets, as well as improved amenities for humans like shade structures and drinking fountains.

“These are regional dog parks, so these are larger in size” than the city parks residents might be familiar with, said Martin Jensen, Salt Lake County’s Parks and Recreation director. “They’re not just four sides to a fence and a half acre, anything that’s going to be loved to death. These are 10 acres or so, with lots of amenities and that will serve multiple communities.”

Finalizing the site plans for the project is the next phase in a multi-step process that comes after the county narrowed down its site selection from multiple locations to just these three. The next phase will be securing funding for the parks, and there’s no clear timeline for when that will happen.

Funding estimates are a few million dollars for each park, Jensen said, including parking lots, bathrooms and pavilions.

Jensen points out that leashed dogs are allowed in all parks across the county but recognizes there are fewer places where they can run free.

“They’re happiest when they’re out there running and playing with their friends and that’s what we want to help create,” he said.

There are currently 15 existing off-leash parks within Salt Lake City’s boundaries — seven of which are time limited, meaning there are only certain times of day when dogs can be unleashed. Taylorsville, West Jordan, Sandy and Draper each has one. The county also has an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to allow dogs off-leash in Mill Creek Canyon on odd-numbered days on canyon trails.

The county held three open houses in the communities near where the parks will be located during the last week in August and is still accepting feedback online at slco.org/parks-recreation/planning/dog-parks or via email at dogparks@slco.org. So far, Jensen said, the feedback has been positive.

“People are excited for them, and the biggest question we get is, ‘When can I expect these to open?’” Jensen said. “And unfortunately we don’t have that timeframe right now, but people loved the designs. They liked them. The other thing they say is, 'Hey, can you build one closer to where I live?’”