Councilman raising stink about dog poop in the park
One of Aspen’s elected leaders wants to ban dogs in a popular riverside park, based on his feeling that the feces and urine left behind by dogs poses a health hazard.
Terry Paulson told his fellow council members Monday that he has had complaints from citizens that, even when dog owners scoop up after their pets, a “residue” is left behind on the grass.
“And when you get near it, it’s a problem,” he said, explaining that while one may not be able to smell this “residue” while walking around the park, when one lies down on the grass, the odor is noticeable.
“It’s a health issue,” he maintained, adding somewhat later that it is also “an enforcement issue.” He pointed out that people often tend to ignore city laws about keeping dogs on leashes and picking up after their pets.
“We should just stop being nice guys,” Paulson said, arguing that dogs should be banned in Herron Park, a popular, small park on the banks of the Roaring Fork River where many parents and children can be found on nice days.
But Mayor John Bennett, presiding yesterday over his last brown-bag lunch meeting as mayor, disagreed with Paulson’s premise and his suggested solution.
Bennett noted that he has a young daughter who has been playing in the park for years and shown no ill effects, and added, “I haven’t seen a problem with dog poop in Herron Park. It’s one of the parks that seems to be the cleanest.”
Bennett, along with his successor, Rachel Richards, and Councilman Jim Markalunas, urged caution before banning dogs in a public park.
“I think it’s wretched overreaction to start talking about banning dogs in parks,” Bennett concluded.
Richards pointed out that many of the users of Herron Park are young children who are playing and running around with their own dogs.
And Markalunas lamented the tendency to pass laws about such things, intoning, “I certainly would hate to see the time come when we couldn’t have dogs in this area.”
He said he would only support such legislation if it could be shown that there is some health hazard for children.
Bennett, somewhat giddy about leaving office and not having to worry about such issues again, chimed in at one point with a grin, “It’s the smell of nature, Terry.”
But Paulson pressed on, declaring, “If humans were out there pooping in the park, we’d do something pretty quick.”
No decisions were made at the meeting, but the council agreed to continue looking into the matter, including an investigation into whether dogs could be segregated to one particular section of Herron Park.
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