Opinion

A reasonable middle ground | IN OUR OPINION

Don’t let Bainbridge Island parks go entirely to the dogs.

Commissioners for the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District are considering a new off-leash dog area at Battle Point Park. Two options are on the table; one near the horse arena, and the other, near the pond area in the southeast corner of park.

Though there is currently an off-leash area at Eagledale Park, it’s a good idea to expand areas where responsible dog owners can let their pets run free. The park district has more than 1,500 acres of land for the public to enjoy, so carving out a bit of Battle Point Park for an off-leash area sounds reasonable.

For some dog owners, however, the set-aside at Battle Point Park is not enough.

It’s been suggested that the parks district should establish some sort of certification system, so dogs that will heed voice commands can roam free wherever their owners take them.

On its face, this “off-leash license” idea seems like a bureaucratic nightmare. Administering and enforcing a “papers please, pooch” law would consume park employee hours and resources that would be much better spent on activities that benefit a broader range of park users, rather than the small group of dog owners on Bainbridge Island with obedience school graduates.

Another suggestion has been to designate certain parks or areas as off-leash areas during certain hours of the day and week.

This approach is also problematic. Having parks taken over by off-leash dogs and their owners would likely limit the enjoyment of park facilities by many other residents.

That said, if park officials are intrigued by the idea, perhaps they should set aside one or two days this summer at a few park facilities as “dog day afternoons” to test the idea before pursuing the proposal across the island.

In our view, the best off-leash area is a private, fenced back yard. Devoting a portion of Battle Point Park, however, is a sensible compromise approach.

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