Tonkin Stadium on High School Hill has been mostly unused since RHS/RMS football moved to the new Wolverine Field adjacent to the high school. (Ernie Over photo)

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Riverton School Board Tuesday night by consensus agreed that a dog park at Tonkin Stadium could be one use for the facility, and they agreed the sponsors of the idea could come back with a formal proposal.

It’s not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination.

Superintendent Terry Snyder said he asked the City of Riverton’s Parks and Trails Planning Committee to attend Tuesday night’s meeting and bounce the idea of off the board to see if they should continue planning. The committee came up with the idea of a dog park when looking at unmet recreational needs in the community, and in the city’s parks system.

Committee spokesperson Craig Blumenshine said the site would not need much in the way of improvements as most of the current site is already fenced. He said he’d like to see two “double gates” created for entrances onto the field plus other amenities such as a dog watering station and waste containers. He also said the field could be used for agility drills for dogs with portable equipment. He said the physical appearance of the field would not be altered.

“There are lots of questions to be pursued,” Snyder said, noting the space is now a city green space where people come to the field to play football or soccer, to kids using the area in the winter for sledding. “The District has continued to maintain the property, there’s a lot of history behind it, and we want to be respectful of the property.”

The Superintendent said the Junior Football League had considered the site for their games, but choose to remain at their present location. Snyder also said the district thought about making the field a tennis facility with four or five courts, but he said that would involve a “significant amount of money and take athletes away from the high school.” He said since the district moved all football games to the new field at Riverton High School, there have been no formal proposals advanced for the use of the stadium. “This seems to be a reasonable request.”

Snyder also said the district is considering usage of the three story old high school classroom structure now occupied by the Wyoming Department of Education’s Special Programs Unit and Fremont County BOCES as the site for a new alternative high school. Snyder said WDE has agreed to move from two floors into one floor, freeing up one floor of the building for the alternative school, should it come to pass.

Blumenshine said the dog park could be a community service opportunity for students at the alternative high school if they were to maintain the site as part of their curriculum.

A majority of the board agreed that the committee should continue to pursue the idea. Trustee Dean Peranteaux said he was not opposed to the idea, but wanted to explore all options for the facility. “If need be for future educational use, it could be turned back and the dog park relocated,” he said.

Carl Manning strongly suggested that if the dog park would not cost the district for maintenance, if liability issues could be addressed, and if the park was a community effort and not a district effort, he would consider it. “Tonkin is not being utilized to its potential now. Our Superintendent should work with this group and we should look at a management plan for it.”

After each board member had their say, Chairman Larry Christensen told Blumenshine, “Okay, go to work.”

See the sponsors memorandum to the board below:

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