Denver Direct: Barnum Park an Off-Leash Example

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Barnum Park an Off-Leash Example

Denver’s Barnum Park at 5th and Knox Court

By Larry Ambrose

As Denver Parks and Recreation DPR) deliberates on off-leash unfenced dog run areas at City Park, Barnum Park is a good example of what is likely to happen.

Barnum, at 5th and Knox Court, is a good area for off leash because there are no paths or pedestrian traffic. It is isolated on a hillside overlooking the 6th Avenue Freeway and I-25. The only problem there is that unsavory characters congregate in the parking area, engaging in dubious activities.

Barnum has about four or five 10-foot split rail fences that only serve to demarcate the area where dogs are supposed to run free. There is nothing to stop the dogs from going beyond that area. In fact, I had to stop taking my dogs there as a group of three because the pack mentality takes over and “voice control” becomes non-existent. The three of them would go down to the lake and run around for hours barking, running, swimming in the nasty water and chasing geese, all the while ignoring their “Master’s Voice.” After some time I was lucky enough to capture one of them and that would break up the pack. Now, I can take the alpha leader dog by herself and the other two without her and I have control.

The original grassy area has given way to muddy terrain, which is rarely maintained by Parks Department personnel. It appears that no part of the dog area has been closed off for repair and allowed for turf rejuvenation as should have been done. Dog feces have become evident over the years as the maintenance regularly performed by responsible dog owners has not kept up with the neglect by those who don’t care.

When I started going to Barnum five years ago, it was a really nice area, decent grass, good user group and relatively unknown to the masses. Parks and Recreation demolished the restrooms and didn’t replace them, so it is not as user friendly to the dog owners and there is no water available for the dogs. There may have been may have been problems with the facilities, given that neither Denver Police nor Parks regularly patrol the area. Now the dog run is heavily used, poorly maintained, and both the dog area and the parking area are unsanitary.

Those concerned about the City Park proposal might want to take a look at Barnum for themselves prior to the public meetings to determine what information would be helpful. The dog area is accessible off of 5th and Knox Court. It’s best to take 8th Avenue from Federal up to Knox Court and go south to 5th Avenue. The parking area is at the end of 5th Avenue.

Parks and Recreation is holding two public meetings in January on draft recommendations for the Dog Park Master Plan:

January 16
Scheitler Recreation Center at Berkeley Park
5301 West 46th Avenue
9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

January 30
Cook Park Recreation Center
7100 Cherry Creek Drive South
1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Angela Casias ([email protected]) says, “Public comment will be taken into consideration in creating the final recommendations.” A copy of the public meeting materials and availability to comment will be available after January 16 at the Denver Parks and Recreation website:

Comments can also be sent directly to the chair of the Dog Park Task Force, David Marquardt, [email protected], and DPR Senior Policy Advisor Chantal Unfug, [email protected]. All comments are public documents, subject to disclosure and all other provisions of the Colorado Open Records Act.

The city’s home delivery newspaper has virtually ignored the work of the Dog Park Task Force. Some neighborhood newspapers such as Life on Capitol Hill and Greater Park Hill News, as well as Denver Daily News have published articles. Also see previous posts on this site.

The author, Larry Ambrose and his wife share their Sloan’s Lake home with three border collies. Ambrose is the representative for Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC) on the Dog Park Master Plan Task Force and is a proponent of properly operated and maintained dog parks.