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City staff wants issue of dogs, bikes in Bonnie View tabled

Saturday, April 16, 2011 | 5:42 p.m. CDT; updated 8:38 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 16, 2011

COLUMBIA — City staff will request to table the issue of dog and bicycle use in the Bonnie View Nature Sanctuary at the Columbia City Council meeting on Monday.

The council recently addressed the issue of whether dogs and bicycles should be allowed in the sanctuary, an 89.5-acre plot of land the Parks and Recreation Commission has been planning as a nature park since 2002. The park will have both a paved trail and numerous natural surface trails.

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A public hearing hosted by the Parks and Recreation Commission on Feb. 17 led the members to suggest to the council that dogs and bicycles should be prohibited.

“Staff tried to compile a summary of pros and cons on these issues,” Mike Hood, parks and recreation director, said. “Studies show dogs even on leash impact the flora and fauna, particularly birds."

Members of the parks commission also addressed the possibility of creating the only park in Columbia for those who are uncomfortable around dogs. Currently, all city parks allow dogs, although not all allow the animals to be off-leash.

At the council meeting March 21, many residents of the properties surrounding the sanctuary voiced their opinions against the prohibition of dogs. Many of those residents own dogs.

Daryl Dudley, Fourth Ward councilman, proposed that the sanctuary, which is in his ward, should allow the use of bikes and dogs only on the paved path that runs along its eastern side. This path connects to Fairview Elementary School.

“I’ve found studies about the impact of dogs on nature areas,” Dudley said. “It’s inconclusive to me.”

In conjunction with the dog and bicycle debate, the rerouting of Scott’s Branch Trail, a path that will run through the southern edge of Bonnie View, has become a delicate issue.

The parks commission suggested the trail be rerouted to avoid the use of sidewalks on Dublin Avenue and Weaver and Bray streets and go through the property owned by the Columbia Audubon Society. The society opposes this issue because it would allow bicycle use on its property.

At the April 4 council meeting, the Scott’s Branch Trail issue was tabled until the May 16 meeting to allow time for review by the Disabilities and Bicycle/Pedestrian commissions.

City staff plans to request that the dog and bicycle prohibition issue be tabled until the May 16 meeting, as well. The parks commission would then have time to further address this issue and make a final recommendation after its April 21 meeting.


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