To the editor:
For the last 18 months the city and the parks district has been talking about, and planning for, a new dog park on the city property off Vincent Road.
The parks district's long-term plan is to build three off-leash dog parks, one to the south (already build at Eagledale Park), one centrally located and one to the north. They've been struggling with finding suitable sites that can enjoy support from the nearby residents as well as the city in general. The Vincent Road facility is the only solution that fits the bill for the centrally located park. And it will more than fill the bill.
When built it would have something like 4-5 acres of open dog play area, likely divided into two parts, one for smaller or more timid dogs and the other a general all-sized dogs' play area.
In addition there will be something like 20-25 acres available for a wooded, fenced-in off-leash area where owners can take their dogs hiking, running and playing in the woods. Think Grand Forest fenced in, without leashes. All this with the park district footing the bill and the cost to the city near zero.
This facility would be terrific for Bainbridge Island. Currently with only one park, a small park that suffers from lack of easy access and poor drainage, our city of 23,000 has a large unsatisfied need for a good “official” place to take a dog where they can get the exercise they need, learn to play with other dogs, and generally romp around unleashed while their owners keep an eye on them. And this needs to be done without hassling others in the process.
For dogs and their owners this new park would be great. Most dogs get exercise while walking on a leash. But many, if not most, can't get the exercise they need without a chance to run faster and for longer distances. And if you have a working dog or a hunting breed they need to burn off energy every day or two otherwise they'll drive their owner nuts (read: my Brittany). And while they get this exercise, a dog park teaches dogs how to interact/play with other dogs, which they can't learn as well on a leash. So a dog park makes for healthier dogs.
It also means other things. I've often been to the Eagledale dog park, and while rarely do you find other dogs there as often as not, on summer weekends, the people and dogs you meet are from out of town. People visiting the Island like having a place to run their dogs.
And once the dog park has been in use for a few months owners will tend to visit the park at the same time and they get to know the dogs and dog-owners. A small community of dog-owners develops. Have you ever met a dog-owner who isn't ready to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about their dog — it doesn't happen. Dog-lovers love to talk about dogs and it becomes a friendly community gathering place.
And finally, the parks district and the city get a solution to dog issues they've been wrestling with for years. An alternative area that people and their dogs can go to if they want to walk, hike or run in the woods and not conflict with those residents who wish to do the same except without dogs being an issue.
We set up a Facebook page a few weeks ago (BIDogParks.com will get you there) to detail what was happening with the city and the park district's plan and to encourage dog-lovers to support this park.
And if the reaction and interest is a good indicator there are lots of Bainbridge Isalnd dog owners who are ready to get this show on the road.
We hope the city will consider what everyone has to say at its meeting this coming Wednesday and then move forward with the park district's plan to build the Vincent Road dog park right away.