Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A creation of culture in the 21st century

How a ‘ghost resort’ became a dog park

Express Staff Writer

Jim Briscoe walks his dogs on Saturday morning. Photo by Roland Lane

    Culture forms community and can spring from a bond as normal as that of man and dog.
    A culture can be forced down folks’ throats—like a foie gras goose feeding—or it can evolve, as it has at Ketchum’s self-described “dog park,” through puppy pee and humans saying “Attaboy!”
    The dog park, located at the former Warm Springs Ranch property, is a new opportunity for enjoyment in 21st century Ketchum.
    The park’s place is on Warm Springs Road (just turn toward Baldy on Bald Mountain Drive). It’s a peculiar example of a community that arose out of nothing. It’s a place where multiple generations, several activities, laughter and woofs come together.
    In the winter, snowshoe trails build themselves through footsteps and footprints. In the summer, it’s just plain fun under Sun Valley sun.
    And everybody engages with everybody. It’s a healthy scene, a natural one. But, as much as the culture pressures a “leave no trace philosophy,” there is still a bit of organic matter. It’s a state of enjoyment born from a ghost ranch of the past with now tree-root-ripped tennis courts. And a river runs through it.
    Some scenes, issues, creatures and people may not be as mutually exclusive as it might appear.
    “Everyone who comes here treats this area with respect,” said the Allens: Jane and Tom and Buddy, a bearded collie “who’s a big mess, but happy right now.”
    “One of our least favorite things about the [view from the] park is that the flag on Baldy is missing this year,” they said. “An entrepreneur used to put it up there for the past 10 years. It disappeared last fall. Also, someone should pick up doing the snow removal in the parking lot in the winter. Nobody does that yet.”
    The Allens added that they like the “interface between folks” and they dislike the fact that “some people don’t clean up. Ridiculous.”
    “We also don’t like occasional dog fights,” said the Allens. “We’ve never seen one, but I’ve heard of them.”
    On Tuesday, Diana Dudley was walking Archie (a King Charles spaniel) and two pups, Molly (a golden retriever) and Toby (an Irish setter, which Dudley said is a rare breed in the valley).
    “This dog doesn’t belong to me,” Dudley said about Archie. “I’ve got friends visiting Connecticut. He’s in our play group though.”
    Ketchum’s Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Smith said she enjoys the scene at the dog park.
    “But it has nothing to do with the city’s parks department,” she said.
    It’s a bootstrap effort in a town full of hiking and ski boots.

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