Dog park being relocated in winter months

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | 8:10 p.m. CDT; updated 6:43 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 29, 2009

COLUMBIA – The Twin Lakes Recreation Area dog park will be moved in the winter months to prevent dogs from falling through ice on the lake.

Parks Services Manager Mike Griggs said the off-leash area needs to be moved because the Columbia Fire Department is concerned about problems with dogs breaking through the ice and afraid someone could drown trying to rescue the animals. The Parks and Recreations Department held a meeting for residents Wednesday to review the plans and a set of rules the department drafted for the park.

Under the new plan, the drained lake area adjacent to the current dog park will be used from December to February for the off-leash dog park.

Currently, there are no rules in place other than city ordinances. Proposed rules include a limit of two dogs per adult, park hours limited to daylight hours and prohibiting children 8 years old and under in the off-leash area.

Several residents with young children and multiple dogs objected to the proposed rules.

Griggs said the department will take community members' comments into consideration.

The Parks and Recreation Department will hold another meeting in the spring to discuss how the new area worked and get feedback from the community on whether the location change should occur every winter.

The move is not permanent, Griggs said. The current off-leash area will be used again in March, he said.

 There are four other off-leash areas in Columbia. The others are located at the Garth Nature Area, Hinkson Woods Conservation Area, Grindstone Nature Area and C.C.R.A. Bear Creek Nature Area.

Griggs said the department will rely on feedback from the community in its future plans and implementations of rules.

Temporary fencing will be set up to keep people out of the off-leash area in the winter. Griggs said the switch will have minimal costs, including leveling out the old swimming lake, which has not been maintained since it was closed.

The Parks and Recreation Department has come up with potential improvement plans for the Twin Lakes recreation area that it shared at the meeting.

A possible bike trail around one lake was met with negative feedback from several community members who felt that there are already enough bike trails in Columbia. Griggs said one of the lakes could be made into a swimming lake again if members of the public express an interest.

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