News

Dog park won’t hunt at city hall

The Bainbridge Island City Council discussed a long-awaited proposal for an off-leash dog park Wednesday — the first of its kind.

But it might be a while longer until any dogs have their day.

The council decided to put a hold on the proposal and begin a public process to gauge community interest in the land in question.

The idea to place a dog park on a former landfill site off Vincent Road is nothing new. The Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District has pitched the idea to construct the park on the city-owned land before, but recently the idea has gained traction with the district.

The project is not included in the city’s 2013 work plan and Interim Public Works Director John Cunningham asked for the council to say “yay” or “nay” on the effort.

The council opted to say neither.

“There was an agreement of determining the best use of this site,” said Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos. “It sounds like we are going around it by setting up the premise that we are going to use it as a dog park.”

Hytopoulos noted that the city’s comprehensive plan mentions the property and instructs that the community be involved at deciding the ultimate use of it.

Other council members agreed and it was decided to engage a public process to decide what to do with the land.

Parks Commissioner Curt Robinson asked the council not to delay.

“We’re hoping the decision on this proposal can be made sooner rather than later,” Robinson said. “This has been out there for a year and a half, maybe longer, and it keeps getting restarted for some reason.”

Robinson noted that the city and the parks district has had multiple conversations about the dog park proposal for a long time already. The council even formed a dog park committee with council members Anne Blair, Sarah Blossom and David Ward to work with the district.

Robinson said that changing staff and other developments have stalled the effort in the past, but hopes that the council can keep the effort going this time.

“Hopefully we can have a little stability,” Robinson said.

Hytopoulos responded by saying that the community process should be respected.

“We are going to go through a pretty short process, nothing elaborate, and bring in ideas,” she said. “Everybody here assumes, there is a very high chance, that this will ultimately be a dog park, but we want to step through these hoops because it’s our responsibility.”

If a dog park ultimately is chosen, city staff will do more research on the proposal and bring it back for the council’s review at a future study session.

The 40-acre property has a long history on the island as a waste dump, and was a landfill for more than 30 years before it was closed in the mid-1970s.

Kitsap County closed the landfill in 1977, and the clean-up of the property was declared “substantially complete” in 2001. The city bought the property the following year, and in 2010, sold nearly six acres of the property to Bainbridge Disposal. The city also operates a decanting facility for stormwater on the property.

The parks district has proposed to lease the property and construct fencing and 15 parking spaces to accommodate visitors and their pets at the dog park.

If approved, the parks district will pay for construction and fencing.

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