Opinion: Incline Village needs a dedicated dog park | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Incline Village needs a dedicated dog park

Myles Riner
Guest Column

Last month, 70 percent of the residents responding to the Community Services Master Plan survey agreed that having a dedicated dog park in Incline Village was the number one priority for the community. When was the last time that 70 percent of the residents of Incline Village agreed on anything?

Currently, there is only one designated dog park in Incline, the Village Green, which also supports many other activities. However, there are a number of problems related to the concomitant use of the Village Green as a leash-free dog park:

• Urine and fecal contamination of the field. Against late winter snows, the accumulation of urine and the occasional overlooked poop is obvious. One can appreciate why parents are concerned about their children rolling around on these fields during play and sports activities.

• Adjacent creek contamination. Incline Creek and Third Creek are used by a number of Lake Tahoe fish for spawning. Bacteria and nitrates from dog waste on the VillageGreen contaminate the creeks, inhibiting their reproduction.

• Multi-use conflicts. At times, Village Green activities preclude off-leash dog use for a week or more. Additionally, off-leash dogs occasionally impede use of the Green for sports practice and other appropriate uses.

• Safety issues. Packs of coyotes have been seen roaming areas adjacent to the Village Green this past winter, hoping for an easy pet meal. Also, when the creeks were running high and fast, smaller dogs have been swept downstream. When low and slow, these creeks become a source of giardia parasitic infection.

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Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID) staff and board members are aware of these issues. As a physician, I believe that the need for a dedicated dog park is not just priority; it should considered be a public health and environmental mandate. In fact, this has been on the priority list for at least 12 years, but why? Several considerations have stalled the development of a dedicated dog park:

• Uncertainty over where to locate the park;

• Funds must be allocated for land purchase, development, and ongoing maintenance.

• Land suitable for a dog park is also attractive to developers.

• Dog owners fear they may lose access to the Village Green.

• Competing demands for other facilities and services.

Recently, IVGID staff informed me that a general proposal for a dedicated dog park will be included in the Master Plan for Incline. This is an important step; but for a fully fleshed out plan to be included, funding sources need to be identified. In Incline, a project like this is unlikely to move forward in a timely way without significant donations from Incline philanthropists, and from the community at-large.

Three sites have been identified as prospects for a dedicated dog park here. Of these three, the site of the abandoned elementary school, owned by the Washoe County School District, may be the most attractive.

The property is big enough to contain a park as large or larger than the Village Green, with the opportunity for ample parking, benches, multiple watering stations, a special area for smaller dogs, an obstacle course, and even a portable wading pool or two for hot summer days. Federal and state funding may be available to build parking and restrooms, serving both the park and a public transportation hub.

The funding needed to acquire and develop this property is an obvious impediment, and similar acquisition issues also plague the other two, less ideal, sites. The site may also by coveted for condominium development, bringing tough choices for the underfunded school district.

Tax dollars alone, even with strong community support, may be inadequate to bring this project to timely fruition. I know there are other dog owners like myself, and possibly some serious philanthropists in Incline Village, who may be willing to contribute to such a project, especially if they could look to a fully envisioned and executable plan.

If you love dogs, and you have the resources to make a donation significant enough to break this logjam, or you think that you could otherwise help to move this project forward: I would encourage you to reach out to members of the IVGID board at 775-832-1100 to indicate your support.