Basalt officials don’t want the town to go to the dogs | AspenTimes.com

Basalt officials don’t want the town to go to the dogs

Basalt’s going to the dogs, but the town government isn’t going to take it anymore.

The Town Council told Police Chief Keith Ikeda in no uncertain terms this week that it wants more tickets written for dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets and skateboarders who don’t wear helmets.

The two infractions hardly constitute a horrendous crime wave, officials said, but they are a major annoyance.

“It’s a serious problem,” said public services manager Bob Gish, referring to dogs running at large and dog droppings, especially in parks and other public places.

“We did pick up 60 pounds [of droppings] in the Willits subdivision this spring – six-zero,” Gish said in obvious disgust.

The popular Arbaney Park is another problem area. The town provides plastic bags so that owners can pick up after dogs, but too few do. Town manager Tom Baker said he saw someone without a dog confront someone with a dog about picking up droppings in the park.

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“It got to be a pretty hostile situation,” said Baker.

Ikeda said dog issues would probably be identified as the No. 1 problem in a survey of town residents. He said the town needs voluntary compliance and not just ticketing to solve the problem.

“If you just rely on police enforcement you’re going to lose the battle,” he said.

That’s the approach the town staff and police have taken with riders who refuse to use helmets at the town-owned skateboard park. Police are using incentives like $2 coupons to local stores for skaters who demonstrate good behavior.

The police department also lends helmets to kids who don’t own them.

A town government press release said if park-users didn’t stop littering, bullying and riding without helmets, the park would have to close.

But Mayor Rick Stevens told Ikeda that tickets were needed in addition to the incentive program.

“It’s great to have a warm, nice fuzzy feeling about this,” Stevens said, “but let’s ding a few of them.”

He said a handful of skatepark-users in their late teens and early 20s were causing the problems at the park, particularly by refusing to wear helmets.

Officials fear that an accident by a helmetless rider will result in prohibitive insurance rates and force the park to close.

“They’re going to screw it up for the ones that do wear helmets,” Stevens said. He said he favors writing tickets to force compliance because he doesn’t want the facility to close.

“There’s been enough advertising. There’s been enough education,” Stevens said. “I’d like to see a few citations. That’s going to send the message.”

Ikeda said he agreed with the idea of aggressive enforcement and indicated his department will have a visible presence at the park.