Let me be clear from the outset, this is a land grab by a very special group of wealthy neighbors. I am speaking, of course, about the recommended and Parks and Rec board-approved dog park at Wayne May Park. The people who work to make Jackson the greatest place in the world to live need the Wayne May Park dog park.

The first responders, ski instructors, snowplow drivers, trash removal workers and food servers have dogs. These good citizens must often walk their dogs early in the morning (dark) or late at night (dark), or have age-related injuries or disabilities requiring a safe place to exercise their dogs.

In response to Justin Watsabaugh’s “Respect our heritage in May Park” Guest Shot of Sept. 29, Parks and Rec already knows what “we” want, we being “the majority” of the people who live here. They spent $1 million on consultants over 1.5 years to determine what we want for their three top priorities: Rec Center expansion, Stilson ballfields and dog parks. These findings and the final plan were approved by the Jackson Town Council and Teton County commissioners, with a commitment to develop the parks within two years. These findings are on record, unlike Mr. Watsabaugh’s unfounded allegations against PAWS with no names of speakers or citations of minutes, regarding who is paying for the dog park. PAWS has for many years publicly offered to help fund dog parks, not to outright pay for them.

PAWS has donated over $500,000 to make improvements to the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter, yet no one has criticized or turned down those funds. Perhaps that’s because most communities benefit from public/private partnerships.

I respect Mr. Watsabaugh’s interests in wanting to preserve our heritage. My question is: Where has that zeal been for the last 30 years that May Park sat empty? The answer? Nowhere. And why? Because May Park’s affluent neighbors want their “open space.”

As to deed restrictions, Mr. Watsabaugh is either misinformed at best or deliberately obtuse at worst, as the deed signed by Wayne and Selma makes clear “the property conveyed shall be utilized for public park purposes only, but with attendant recreational uses and facilities such as play grounds, picnic areas, ball parks, etc.” I wonder why the words “cabin” and “farm equipment” were eliminated by Wayne and Selma if that was their true desire?

Perhaps Mr. Watsabaugh has forgotten our “heritage” of dogs working side by side with our ranchers as they herd cattle and sheep throughout our state and have done so for decades upon decades. Please do not suggest this is not a well-funded “power land grab” by a discrete minority of our citizens.

I am the owner of S&D Advocates LLC, a Wyoming law firm. I am not being paid or receiving any goods or services for this letter. I am not working with paid attorneys or paid lobbyists for any special interest group or person. I confess to being a dog lover. I have donated $30,000 through Old Bill’s Fun Run for various furry projects in our valley.

The first responders, nurses, search and rescue people, ski patrollers, welders, laborers, plumbers, electricians and others I’ve represented my entire career get treated by me with the same respect that I show to the opposing attorneys, CEOs and executives I litigate against every day.

Might I suggest that Mr. Watsabaugh show them the same respect by suggesting his affluent friends find (and fund) creative ways to integrate some of his “heritage” ideas with the dog park, only 1 acre of an 11-acre park.

Scott S. Segal is an attorney and animal lover. Guest Shots are solely the opinion of their authors.

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(1) comment

John Hoover

Your are incorrect - the majority of all neighbors of east Jackson DON'T want the dog park, regardless of socioeconomic status. Check your facts. Everyone choses to live in JH for the outdoors, and we have vast amounts of public land in which to exercise WITH our canines. That is the answer.

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