City considering options to calm down Twin Lakes Dog Park

Friday, August 21, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — City officials are working to make Twin Lakes Recreation Area safer for dogs and their owners. The off-leash dog park, which is bordered by a lake, has signs warning owners to keep their dogs from going onto the lake when it is covered with ice. In spite of the warnings, breaking through the ice has been far too common an occurrence.

“If a dog goes through the ice, pretty soon a person goes out to help," said Battalion Chief Steven Sapp, Fire Marshall for the Columbia Fire Department. "It’s human nature.”

No one was injured this past winter, but Sapp and other city officials worry that they might not be so lucky in the future.

Sapp and the Fire Department have been pushing for the park services to do more to educate the public about the danger thin ice presents.

Mike Griggs, manager of the city’s park services division, said that for three years, the city has tried to get the word out. Signs have been posted signs at either end of the park warning of the danger.

Because those steps haven’t been effective in preventing incidents, the city is now weighing several alternatives. These include using a drained-lake area adjacent to  the off-leash area during the winter and shrinking the size of the current area with a temporary fence.

Griggs said the parks service is not considering closing the park, except for days when the lake was covered with ice and not considered safe. He said that safety for everyone, dogs and people alike, is one of his main concerns.

"One of these days, someone's gonna drown. I'll never sleep at night if that happens," he said.

The park services division will convene its staff in the next few weeks to discuss the issue and to come up with long-term and short-term options. Then, after posting notices at the off-leash park, Griggs will hold two open meetings at the Twin Lakes shelter, where he will present the city's options and get feedback from the park’s patrons. He said that he is looking for options that everyone can be happy with.

Griggs added that part of the challenge has been cutbacks in the park services' budget.

"We do have some money for short-term solutions, but longer-term would need funding," he said. "We just want to make the park safer for dogs."

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Charles Dudley Jr August 21, 2009 | 9:13 a.m.

Why not use portable chain link fencing during the Winter months to close off lake access from the open dog run or chain link panels could be made to be used during the Winter months and stored during the Summer months.

Think outside of the box people. :)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 21, 2009 | 9:18 a.m.

Added Note: 10 foot long chain link panels that are 5 foot tall can be easily crafted and easily moved by a backhoe with the fork lift attachment on the front.

Put the warning signs on them, and at least you are creating some kind of a barrier to keep the doggies and kids safe during the Winter months.

How long is the area in yards that needs to be blocked off? Do the math and build the panels. Yes you would have to find the funding but P & R should be able to come up with that as a park improvement.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock August 21, 2009 | 1:52 p.m.

I think Chuck it would be a lot cheaper and easier just to close the park. I mean it shouldn't be the end of the world if you can't turn your dog out for a week or two.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 21, 2009 | 2:35 p.m.

Allan Sharrock I doubt they would close it as too many people use it year round. Besides I am sure as everybody has been saying that P & R has tons of tax payer money in that Park Fund. So why not use it for a good use and that is to keep the dogs safe in Winter.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 21, 2009 | 4:02 p.m.

How about people not take their dogs to that park if they are not under strict voice control? I never took my dogs there, but to the park off Old 63 (Grindstone Nature Area maybe?). Plenty of room to run off back in the trails or the creek as long as no other people were around.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 21, 2009 | 5:10 p.m.

Oh but John Schultz remember all of those tax dollars in that Park Fund alot of Citizens of Columbia voted for don't you?

So what is wrong in using some of those funds for "Park Improvements" if that is the only way those funds can be spent or are they only for a select crowd in Columbia like say the Park Bike Trail Riders?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 21, 2009 | 6:09 p.m.

Just how much is in those vaunted funds vs. how much the CFD spends on the average dog rescue?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 21, 2009 | 7:01 p.m.

Well John if they call out two units on the rescue plus if a ambulance rolls along and CPD that might add up to quite alot.

Putting in the fencing might be a rather cheaper and long term solution especially if it is made in panels that are reusable.

Sure they can close the park but you and I both know that WILL NOT STOP ANYBODY who wants to use that park.

Also what you would be saying to your tax paying citizens is that you do not give a dam about their exercise needs nor that of their animals either during the Winter months.

Ya great idea to piss off your tax payers who want more park development for year round activities but you refuse to provide for their needs year round.

Great idea.....NOT!

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 21, 2009 | 8:50 p.m.

Chuck, there are approximately five zillion other parks they can walk their dogs in. If they want to let them run, take them to the aforementioned park off Grindstone. There are probably far too many people in Columbia who don't have appropriate yard space for their dogs and shouldn't have them anyway. Taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for someone's pet's exercise if you are trying to lay that guilt trip on me.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 22, 2009 | 4:39 a.m.

John Schultz Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Boone County and the above things you mentioned are why you would never make it in the real political world with in the city limits of Columbia.

Sorry to diss you in such a way but we all know you do not live with in the city limits but out in the county yet you are one of those who think you can impose your ideals into city politics.

Why should the citizens who use that dog park and have for years be forced to have to drive father to go enjoy their exercise time with their beloved animals of choice?

So you condone the use of more gas and money out of the pockets of the citizens just to have to go enjoy one of their beloved outdoor activities instead of being able to enjoy it where they always have?

There is NO reason why those citizens should be forced to travel father than they do just because somebody who lives outside of the city limits think they should.

If this city can cater as it is to the bicyclist crowd why not to the dog crowd too unless City Council,the Mayor,Bill Watkins and Mike Hood are a bunch of hypocrites and really do not give a dam about all of the citizens of this city and only are catering to the elite PedNutz crowd.

Let the dog walkers have the improvements needed at their dog walking park of choice as it should be. The bicycle crowd seems to get whatever it wants so why not be fair.

Once again as I said above: >>> Sure they can close the park but you and I both know that WILL NOT STOP ANYBODY who wants to use that park. <<< and as such the CFD will still get calls out there for this issue and possibly only more calls.

Why not fix the dam problem and be done with it.

(Report Comment)
Bill Z August 22, 2009 | 9:39 a.m.

If they can fence off the area in the winter then they should leave the fencing up all year round and allow people to access the water through a gate as many other fenced dogparks do. Some peope may not want their dog in the water for a variety of reasons. And trying to figure out which days to put up the fencing and deny access is going to be a part time job for somebody in the winter.

I thought I saw something in this story that said they had 11 incidents requiring some emergency service last winter but now I can't find it (?)

Does anyone have that information ?

Bill Zardus ....
ccdogpark at YahooDotCom ....

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 22, 2009 | 11:55 a.m.

Thank you Bill Z and I can agree with permanent fencing as you say that has gating that allows access but in the Winter time is the issue in question about access.

I was saying leave the fencing up all Winter then come Spring take it down for storage.

Now if they installed permanent fencing with say a 10 foot from the water leeway and gates every say 100 feet for all access needed then yes I can see that as a permanent solution.

We are still faced though with the problems of kids,adults and their dogs trying to get to he water no matter what in the Winter months and that hazard. Closing the park itself is not the over all end solution at all.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 22, 2009 | 12:24 p.m.

Chuckles, it matters not one whit that I live in the county vs. the city. I still pay city sales tax when I make purchases in Columbia. I am subject to city ordinances and law when I am within the city limits. If I think the city is doing something stupid, I will speak out against it (look for me at the next council meeting). Kind of funny how King Chuck the Inclusive wants to shut county residents out of any discussion he is commandeering. The rest of your rant is really ridiculous.

Bill Zardus, thank you for a much better solution that putting up and removing fencing each year. I thought I had previously read in the article that there were four calls for dog rescues last year, but I must have either made that up or the story has been edited since posting.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 22, 2009 | 12:52 p.m.

John Schultz no the fact is idiot political types like you are why this country is in such bad shape as a whole.

To bad you are blinded by your own self centered lust for power to see it though.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 22, 2009 | 3:21 p.m.

Lay off the Wild Irish Rose, Chuck.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 22, 2009 | 3:37 p.m.

John Schultz only when you lay off crack.

(Report Comment)
Bill Z August 22, 2009 | 6:57 p.m.

The lead-in to this story that I found via was a page full of headlines and links to the indvidual stories. The headline to this story clearly says they had 11 incidents requiring emergency services last winter alone but for some crazy reason that important fact was not included in the story !! ??

go to and search on the 3 word
Columbia dog park
to verify this for yourself
but the headline page no longer conatins this text

Trying to contact the reporters for this newspaper to pose relevent questions, is harder than trying to contact the president.

Bill Zardus ....
ccdogpark at YahooDotCom .... ... ...

(Report Comment)
NANCEY LONDON August 23, 2009 | 8:14 a.m.

I live in Texas. Our dog parks close after heavy thunderstorms until the ground is dry and hard again. It is inconvenient and disappointing, but we go to plan B on those days. I think if Twin Lakes just closes on dangerous days, the dog owners will accept the rationale and go on to Plan B too. Easier for the city to implement (I think). I've been to that dog park with my German Shepherds. I hope the story gets followed and the city addresses it with due diligence. I am interested in the outcome. And, no wisecracks please about Texans.

(Report Comment)

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