Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Dogs may snag more room in Auditorium Shores renovation

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TWC News: Dogs may snag more room in Auditorium Shores renovation
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The pups of Auditorium Shores may have a little more wiggle room under its new design.

Dog owners made their case before Austin's Parks and Recreation Board Tuesday night in an effort to get more room for their canine creatures once the makeover plan for the park is complete.

Since plans were released in July, dog owners have told the city officials the new three-and-a-quarter acre area wasn't big enough.

Parks and rec commissioners came up with a solution—a fence that will separate the trail from the off-leash area, and another one-and-a-half acres to the off-leash space. The Austin City Council will consider the final design Thursday.

"The lawn is pretty wide open,” Jesse Vargas with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department said. “It is a large meadow area. This, again, is in keeping with what the constituents had asked to see out in that area."

Many dog owners say they're still frustrated to lose off-leash access to the other 13 acres in the park.

Bill Frazier says Austin's dog owners have volunteered at parks for more than 10,000 hours in the past five years. At the meeting, Bill Frazier pointed out five different Austin parks where dog areas were reduced or not considered.

"At the same time, we've lost off-leash acreage,” he said. "It's difficult for this community to come in and be expected to just give up space."

City leaders say the change is needed to strike a balance between all users, including dogs, runners, event goers and families.

Melissa Barry is a dog owner and the mother.She says she stopped going to Auditorium Shores with her daughter after a few close encounters with dogs.

"I think it provides the best of both worlds. I can have a place to take my dog, and she can enjoy herself,” Barry said. “I can have a place to take my daughter where she can be safe and happy and enjoy herself."

In addition to the plan, parks and rec commissioners want to look at ways to require downtown high rise developers to create dog runs and green spaces on their properties.

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