JACKSON, Wyo. — Following months of advocacy progress on an off-leash dog park was halted on Thursday evening at the Parks & Rec Advisory Board Meeting.
“Last night the Parks and Recreation board unanimously supported staff’s recommendation to put a pause button on the CUP application process for Wayne May Park and Powderhorn Park,” said Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Executive Director Steve Ashworth.
For several years now, the location of an off-leash dog park in Jackson has been a topic of public debate. Currently, there is only one temporary dog park in Jackson, located at the Teton County Fairgrounds. The park was open this past winter from Nov. 6, 2020 through April 28, 2021.
On June 28 2021, Parks & Rec released information about the upcoming projects in the pipeline and identified off-leash dog parks as a high-priority item. As evidenced by the strategic plan, the community at large supported dog parks in the Parks & Rec system.
However, Ashworth explained that due to capital funding challenges and staffing resources, the expansion of the recreation center facility remains the top priority over an off-leash dog park.
“The justification for doing this was based upon both capital funding challenges and staffing resources,” Ashworth said. “As identified by the 2018 strategic plan and the various community outreach exercises we have conducted over the years, the recreation center continues to be the department’s and the community’s number one priority.”
While a majority of the community has expressed their support for a dog park in the Parks & Rec system, Ashworth expressed that the rec center facility expansion will benefit a more diverse array of community members.
“The facility expansion will serve the greatest number of residents and guests, and impacts the most vulnerable and service-challenged members of our community.”
However, Ashworth reminded the public that this prioritization is short-term and that the topic will likely be addressed in the future.
“We are optimistic that this pause button on long-range planning and program prioritization is short term, and we will work to return many of these services in a sustainable and strategic manner in the future.”
The non-profit PAWS of Jackson Hole, shared their thoughts about the decision, encouraging the community to engage with town politicians who will can further advocate for a dog park in Jackson.
“Without public engagement, these proposals will continue to be de-prioritized and sidelined again and again. PAWS has been involved in countless dog park proposals over the last 15 plus years. The outcome has been consistent,” said PAWS.