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Bainbridge parks puts plans for Battle Point Park off-leash dog park on hold
Bainbridge park officials have shelved plans for putting an off-leash dog park at Battle Point Park.
Commissioners for the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District met last week to go over still-evolving plans to create a fenced dog park. Earlier, officials had been mulling alternatives that would create an off-leash dog park at Battle Point, but many islanders who spoke at a public hearing last month said the part of the property eyed for the park was flooded much of the year, and also said an off-leash area could create conflicts with other users of the park.
The parks district is now considering three alternatives that would expand Eagledale Dog Park, and two options that would mean the development of a dog park on city-owned land on Vincent Road, near the Bainbridge Disposal transfer station.
At the parks commissioners' meeting late last week, Park Services Supervisor Dan Hamlin outlined the costs for creating fenced dog parks at Battle Point and Eagledale parks and the Vincent Road site.
The first fencing option, at Battle Point Park, would cost roughly $32,400 and create a dog area 2.5 acres in size.
A second option that would create a fenced dog park just less than an acre in size was expected to cost approximately $17,300.
The costs are Eagledale varied from $7,000 to $15,000, and one option included fencing off the labyrinth at the park.
The estimates were based on $15 per foot of basic chain link fence, including gates.
Each alternative included amenities such as a small picnic shelter, a drinking fountain for people and canines, a new bench, picnic table, dog toy box, bag holders and kiosk.
Commissioner Ken DeWitt said he was worried that the fence in one option at Eagledale would be placed too close to the labyrinth, and suggested it be pulled back to the asphalt pathway that runs nearby.
"Personally, I'm a little uncomfortable leaving just a small space around the labyrinth," DeWitt said.
"Having dogs be able to come essentially right next to the edge of it can destroy or at least take away from the contemplativeness of the site," he said.
District staff said the Vincent Road site looked like it not only had ample space, but many of the other components that dog owners want to see in a new dog park.
Two alternatives were presented; one for a 5.4 acre fenced park, and another for 11.4 acres that would include a forested area with trees.
Fencing off the 5-acre area was expected to cost $48,000, and the estimate included a new parking lot and the other amenities that were included in the Battle Point Park and Eagledale Park scenarios. The larger park would cost approximately $66,000.
Hamlin recalled that dog owners at the hearing in May had wanted a dog park that was more than just an open field.
"People were asking for things I didn't see coming," Hamlin said. "They want their dogs to run, they want their dogs to roam free on the trails."
The Vincent Road alternative that includes the large wooded area, he said, "kind of gives everybody a little of what they were asking for.
"You can incorporate quite a trail system in there," Hamlin said, adding that the alternative included a fence around the perimeter of the site that would leave a 30-foot buffer for neighbors.
Terry Lande, director of the parks district, said the dog park could also be expanded at a later date.
"Over time, you could easily make this an 18-acre, 20-acre minimum, dog park area if you chose to," Lande told park commissioners.
Lande said the city's approval is essential — Bainbridge Island owns the land — but even so, the possibilities of the property were so enticing that it warranted review.
"We wanted to pursue this because it's pretty dang cool," Lande said.
The district's lawyer has sent the city a letter and requested Bainbridge officials to spell out any potential concerns with using part of the property for a dog park.
"If it's an issue of a concern that has been there for 25 years, and our use doesn't change anything, then what's the hold-up?" Lande recounted. "If there's something that we trigger by going in there, legally, then tell us what that is, so we can begin to address it."
The board of commissioners will hold a meeting next month to present dog park options to the public and get feedback.
Some commissioners, however, said the discussion should go beyond potential sites and address other topics that have been brought up by dog owners.
Some islanders have asked the district to consider setting aside scheduled hours for parks across the district where dog owners could let their animals run off-leash if they had been certified by a professional dog trainer.
Commissioner Kirk Robinson said those discussions should be brought to a conclusion, and accepting comments from the public on topics beyond the suggested alternatives would help.
"That seems to be kind of an underlying issue that if we don't address, it's going to keep coming back around at us," Robinson said.
DeWitt, however, said he didn't want the idea for dog park improvements to get lost in the mix.
"We have a need for fenced-in dog areas. That's why I want to keep this part of it moving forward," DeWitt said.
At the last public meeting on dog park issues, residents were not able to talk about dedicated hours for dog owners or other topics unrelated to the proposal for an off-leash area at Battle Point Park. Other board members said the time was right for a boarder discussion.
"I think you got to let them speak and you've got to listen with an open mind and see if they can persuade you," said Commissioner Jay Kinney.
"We need to, at least, come down as board one way or another on all of those issues, formally," Robinson added.
"I think we need to have the general discussion," agreed Commissioner Lee Cross.
"At the same time, I don't want to lose momentum on this," Cross said, recalling how it's been two years since the district's dog committee presented its recommendations.
"And we still haven't done anything," she said.
"As a board, we agreed we need to have fenced dog parks. And there are a number of people with dogs who want fenced dog parks," Cross said.
"We need to proceed on this at the same time that we're entertaining these other subjects," she said.
To that end, commissioners agreed to hold a meeting on dog park issues on Tuesday, July 17.
Commissioners will then get a wrap-up report at their regular meeting on Thursday, July 19.
The district will take comment on the Eagledale Park expansion, and other potential options, on Thursday, Aug. 2.
Commissioners expect to discuss their next steps at their following meeting on Thursday, Aug. 16.