Popular dog park closes to make way for new recreation center

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DENVER -- If you are planning to take your dog to a dog park in Denver, you will have to go somewhere other than the one at Josephine Gardens near City Park after the city closed it.

Denver is developing the land into the Central Denver Recreation Center and construction crews will break ground on the project the first week of November.

The dog park opened near Josephine Street and East 16th Avenue about five years ago when Denver purchased the land for the recreation center project.

The dog park was a temporary placeholder while the city secured funding for the project. Since it was put in, the park has become one of the most popular spots in Denver for dogs.

“Oh, yeah, people are really sad today is the last day. Everyone here is really aware of that,” dog owner Phil Wade said.

There will be a new, smaller dog playground as part of the Central Recreation Center project. It will be about a quarter the size of the Josephine Gardens dog park and will not open until sometime in 2017.

When asked what he will do with his dog in the meantime, Denver resident Miki Veskovic said, “Good question. We really haven’t figured it out yet. I guess we’re going to have to take him on more walks and stuff like that, but when it comes to dog-to-dog interaction there is not really a replacement.”

There are 10 other dog parks in Denver. Some dog owners said they are too far away or not popular enough.

“Where we live there is not any good dog parks. It’s all on-leash so this is the only place that we have to take him,” said Sarah Ostrander, who took her dog Blu to the dog park daily.

“If I turn [my dog] lose in an empty park, he just looks at me like ‘What do you want me to do?’” Wade said.

Denver Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Cyndi Karvaski said there are no plans to open new dog parks in 2016.

Some dog owners have petitioned the city for a spot for dogs in City Park. Karvaski said it is a possibility if the neighborhood is in favor, but so far the idea has been blocked.

Denver City Councilman Wayne New said he is searching for a spot in his district for a park.

In an email he wrote, “I have identified one location, but it has not had final neighborhood approval.”​