In a 4-3 decision the Salt Lake City Council voted to maintain off-leash access to much of Parley's Historic Nature Park/Tanner Park, but a primary off-leash advocate says the mayor is likely to veto the council vote as he had threatened to do in advance of last night's meeting.
New on City Weekly today is a profile of the grassroots movement of dog owners who became emotionally and politically involved in this battle and others over the past years, and also a look forward as to which parks and what type of access this formidable group may seek next for more off-leash space.
"I have been told through inner channels that he says he's going to [veto the plan]," says Polly Hart, the director of Millcreek FIDOS, or Friends Interested in Dogs and Open Spaces. "[But] I'm thrilled with the council vote and I hope the mayor doesn't veto."
Calls to the mayor's office this morning have not been returned. This post will be updated when that happens. Becker told the Deseret News' Jared Page, however, that the veto decision would be made swiftly. "I'm not going to take a lot of time thinking about this," Becker said last night after the vote. Becker told the Salt Lake Tribune's Derek P. Jensen that allowing dogs south of the creek--which the council plan does--"causes me great concern."
Access to the creek--the restrictions were largely motivated by a desire for water quality and riparian habitat--has been restricted to three areas and social trails have also been restricted from off-leash use. Hart says Millcreek FIDOS has always supported both of those restrictions.
If the mayor vetoes the council-approved restrictions--which Hart considers to be an good compromise, especially compared to the mayor's original plan--would that then reinforce the status quo, where off-leash dogs are welcome throughout the more than 60 acres in the park?
Hart says that's unclear.
"I would like to think the status quo would remain [if the mayor vetoes the council plan] but one city attorney says that if the council can't override his veto then [Becker's] master plan [which would restrict off-leash access to two 5-acre fenced areas and one trail] would take effect," Hart says, "and another attorney says 'I'm not so sure.' I think the city attorneys are still having discussions about what happens if the council can't override the veto."
Voting with the majority were council members Soren Simonsen, Luke Garrot, Stan Penfold and Jill Remington-Love. That left Carlton Christensen, Van Turner and JT Martin in the minority. Five votes are required to overturn the mayor's veto--if one is issued.