Wearing dog tags that read “Forever Love Deserves a Forever Dog Park,” members of the Washington Dog Park Group addressed the park board Thursday, July 18, with renewed frustration in its attempt to get a permanent dog park here.
Although the park board has been supportive of a dog park and listed it as a priority, dog park members feel that the process is taking too long.
The temporary dog park at Burger Park will be closed to dogs soon through November so the park can be used as a soccer field.
Julia West, who is the group’s organizer, said there also is some renewed objection to the proposed location on Simmonds Drive, which is currently under lease by the Washington Youth Sports Association.
The sports association is seeking a new location to build practice fields, but still holds the lease on the land located near the trails end and the wastewater treatment plant.
West said there are drainage problems at the park with several inches of standing water in some places. She said there also is a sulfur smell in the area.
Park board members said the water issue would have to be addressed if the land was designated as a dog park and that the sulfur smell could be attributed to something other than the treatment plant.
West quoted portions of the park department’s master plan that said “stakeholders interviewed stated they would welcome additional land for development of additional athletic fields, dog park, multipurpose facility and a community park in the south to southeast area of the city” and read comments from other dog park members.
In land acquisition goals, a dog park is listed as a priority.
“We’ve looked at a lot (of land), but there’s no money to buy anything at this point,” said Darren Dunkle, parks director. “The dog park has always been a priority, nothing has changed.”
West asked if the youth league decision could have a time limit put on it, but because there is a multi-year lease it cannot.
The park board previously asked the city council to notify the league of a termination of the lease, which would give the league a 185-day notice of the termination, but the council rejected the request.
Park board members voted to again ask the council to consider terminating the lease to help expedite the dog park process.
“I think everybody on the park commission is in favor of this park, the thing is that until you get approval from the council we can’t do anything,” said Dan Cassette, park board member.
Dunkle said that the council isn’t opposed to the park, but it comes down to land and money.
Karen Maniaci said she understands the groups’ frustration with how long everything takes.
“But, are you saying that if we get that going (at the Simmonds location) that you don’t want it there?,” she asked.
West said members have indicated that maybe they would rather keep Burger Park until a better location can be found.
“We, as a park board, feel it’s a very good spot, and it’s the only spot we can think of that accomplishes a lot of the things you would like, (including) shade, 2.5 acres of land, parking and water,” said Sparky Stuckenschneider, park board member.
One dog park group member, Amy Crosan, read a letter from her dog, Princess, to the park board.
“I used to live in Union and know that municipality has a dog park for dogs only and it isn’t shared by any sports organizations, therefore being a part-time dog park such as what we in Washington currently have at Burger Park,” the letter says.
It goes on to ask the board to “paws” for thought regarding the issue and consider a “bone” fide place to have a permanent dog park.