The autocratic Boise parks commissioners have voted. At their March 17 meeting they ruled that off-leash dogs will be severely restricted in Winstead Park. Dogs will NOT be allowed off-leash after 8 am for nine months of the year. For three winter months November-January they will be allowed from 3 pm until sunset, in addtion to the crack of dawn hours. Sunset is around 5 pm. Very generous of them.
They defeated a proposal for sunrise to 10 am from Parks staff and didn't even consider winter all-day off-leash from Nov. 1-Mar. 31 as their staff originally proposed Feb. 2. The enmity and apathy of some commissioners toward dog owners was palpable. The lack of dog supporters on the commission was rife. The liaison city council members were no help. The local paper did no reporting.
Other parks fared slightly better. A few, like Castle Hills and Redwood, have more humanly decent hours of sunrise-10 am and 4 pm to sunset year-round, although Castle is limited to about 30% of its area, about two acres (still larger than the "dog parks.")
But the commissioners reserved most of their disdain for the Winstead folks, a few of whom showed up at the meeting and proceeded to argue counter-intuitively why Winstead shouldn't be off-leash. One Negative Winstead resident still can't get over the fact that he was ticketed for no leash and takes every opportunity to berate the commissioners. Another Nattering Neighbor enumerated all the non-dog uses for Winstead, especially for the precious children who play pee-wee football?????. That cooked the goose pretty much, or screwed the pooch to be more accurate.
And gave Filibuster Tom the Commissioner his opening. It makes no difference to him that the park is virtually empty all winter. His reasoning was comically mean-spirited. "We're trying to crowd too much use into Winstead. I have a hard time looking at Winstead as a candidate for off-leash." Of course he failed to identify all this winter usage.
The commissioners see no way that dogs can co-exist with people, especially the little kind. One commissioner said the dear children walk through the park to school, without substantiation, but then it was pointed out that in the winter, the children don't walk at all. No matter, this was a rigged deal. So Winstead residents lost any chance to be out in the park during decent hours at any time of the year.
If you work, and have a dog that needs exercise, tough. Hope you can afford gas for all the driving you will do.
After two years of effort, this is the result, even though 66% of survey respondents favored off-leash hours. The commissioners showed their disdain for dog owners. For the most part, dogs and owners have been sentenced to mindless walking with leash around a path. There is no way they can justify such bare minimum hours for off-leash in the dead of winter.
The Parks Department and the commissioners would really like to rid parks of all dogs, I believe. Sports and social gatherings bring in the money. The dog license fees go elsewhere. However, they're in a bind. They realize the "dog parks" they've provided are jokes -- poorly designed, poorly equipped, poorly utilized -- and there's just too many dogs in town. So their solution is to throw open a few "people" parks to very limited usage. The non-revenue parks get more hours, the revenue parks like Winstead and Sunset, get very few.
It's all about the money, and don't forget to pay for those dog licenses. It's the law.
Oh, by the way, we raised the fees on ya!
This is a pilot program, subject to cancellation (or further restrictions) at any time.