Members of the Washington Dog Park Group attended a park board committee meeting Thursday, April 18, to discuss possible locations for a dog park in the city.
Julia West, who has been speaking for the group, presented three possible locations, at Lakeview Park, a portion of the park along Tiemann Drive and on the fairgrounds, adjacent to the main stage. Two other members also attended the meeting.
The group is requesting 1 to 2 acres of land, fencing, a water source and maintenance. The group said the park must have shade and parking and requested restrooms and seating, high visibility and an aesthetically desirable location to maximize usage.
Currently, Burger Park is used as a dog park, but is not available during soccer season. The park is 1.4 acres.
The group highlighted advantages and disadvantages to each location.
Tessie Steffens, board member, said she didn’t like the idea of dedicating land at the fairgrounds for a dog park, because the open space is used a lot for recreation.
All three locations would be impacted during the Fair and possibly at other times.
Darren Dunkle, parks director, said he is still working with the Washington Youth Sports Association on the location of ball fields the group wants to construct, which may impact the location of a dog park.
If the sports association decided on another location, there is a possibility that land on Simmonds Drive, at the end of the riverfront trail and near the wastewater treatment plant, would be available.
The location, which is about 5 acres, would provide everything the dog park group wants, park board members said, including water, trees for shade, space, turf and would be the easiest site to place fencing.
West said that in a Facebook poll, people indicated that they wouldn’t use a dog park located near the wastewater treatment plant because of the heartworm-carrying mosquitoes and the perceived odor from the plant.
“They wouldn’t go there because of the way it is now,” Steffens said, “But if we were able to put water in it right away, and if we were able to put the restrooms in and clean it up, would that not change?”
Board members said the trail also is a low-lying area and is sprayed for mosquitoes and the park could be as well. The odor from the plant has been controlled and should no longer be a problem, they said.
“We don’t want to put you or your animals in a place that’s not good,” Steffens said. “But this could be a very nice area.”
Mark Hidritch, city council liaison, encouraged people to visit the location and check it out.
Bill Kackley, board member, said the perception of the Simmonds location is just that — a perception.
“It’s important to help change that perception,” he said.
The park board will continue discussions with the youth sports association and the dog park group on locations for both the fields and the dog park.
The dog park group attended a city council meeting last week with the location ideas, but was sent back to the park committee for a recommendation.
West also requested that temporary signs be placed at International and Highway 100 to let people know about the Burger Park location.