By Jeff Todd
DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver man is on a crusade to turn a baseball field in his neighborhood into a dog park.
“There’s nowhere to bring my dog around my neighborhood. This place is completely infested with new development and concrete,” said Frank Casali about the Lower Highlands.
Casali walks around Hirschorn Park a few times a day, but for years the site had been locked because dog waste had become too big a problem. Denver Parks and Recreation reopened the park for a test period this summer and will keep the locks off entrances.
The ballfield is available for use with a permit from Denver Parks and Recreation, but Casali says it largely goes unused.
“I’ve seen a few adult beer kickball leagues, not a single little league baseball game. Not one the three years I’ve been here,” said Casali.
On Wednesday evening, the outfield looked like a dog park, several owners were illegally letting dogs off leash to run around.
“These guys might get $100 off leash tickets. I’ve seen it done on a regular basis. The park rangers are here almost every day. They’re lucky they’re not getting ticketed,” Casali said. But he argues the dog owners breaking the law proves his point.
“It’s very easy to put in a dog park, just fence a small area and keep it enclosed and allow dogs to run freely,” Casali said. “Denver is such a dog populated, friendly city. I mean, I’m surprised I have to fight for this.”
Parks and Rec has contemplated removing some of the fencing around the baseball field, so it’s not enclosed and not enticing for dog owners to take their dog off-leash.
This fall, the department is also reassessing its dog park master plan. Residents are encouraged to take a survey about how the city could better utilize dog parks in the future.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.