Off-leash dog zone gets a bone

Adelaide Park is slated to become home to the city’s second off-leash dog park.

The city invited 235 households — all within 500 feet of the park — to participate in the May 13 discussion of how to better utilize the park and make the space more inviting to the public. Transforming the park’s rarely-used horse arena into an off-leash park for small dogs was the city’s proposal.

“We came away (from the meeting) with the feeling that this is something we should proceed with,” said Betty Sanders, park planning and development coordinator. She estimates the off-leash area could be open by late summer or early fall.

The 6.7 acre park, located at 30619 16th Ave S.W., features a children’s play structure, tennis court, picnic space and horse arena. The idea for a second dog park was initiated by a Federal Way resident. The city identified Adelaide as an ideal location.

When the idea was presented to the park’s neighbors during the meeting, the city received an encouraging response from the 17 attendees, said ICMA fellow Scott Pingel. Some neighbors already use the area as an off-leash dog park, Pingel said.

Adelaide is a space that, with work, could be greatly improved upon and serve as a community gathering place, Sanders said. Transforming the horse arena into a dog park would require a few fence repairs, landscaping and laying down surface material, Sanders said.

“It doesn’t require much work to make it happen,” she said.

Richard Clark lives across the street from Adelaide Park and said many of his neighbors own small dogs. His own dog does not prefer to travel, so having an off-leash area nearby would be convenient, Clark said.

Jim Lessler would also like to see the city pursue an off-leash space for small dogs. He owns large dogs and visits French Lake Park, where several canine owners bring their large and medium-sized dogs. Having so many large animals roaming around makes some owners of small dogs nervous, Lessler said.

Sherman Wong of Federal Way brings his two Miniature Schnauzers to French Lake, but said he would use a park specifically for small dogs because his pets are intimidated by large animals. Susan Stroh of Federal Way said her small dogs generally get along with larger breeds, but she too would be interested in another dog park in the city.

“The more dog parks the better, really,” Stroh said.

Adding another off-leash area would not only benefit the animals, but their owners as well, resident Grace Erickson said. Dog play dates are popular, and dog parks help residents build friendships with people who share common interests, she said.

“It would bring a lot of people (to the park), and it’s a plus for the community to create more friendships,” Erickson said.

Detailed discussions are still under way about whether to set a weight limit to identify which dogs are considered small or allow the park’s users to self-police the park, Sanders said.

No other public meetings are scheduled and city council approval is not needed to proceed with the park, Sanders said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: or (253) 925-5565.

Other notable improvements:

Along with a canine off-leash area, the park’s vegetation will be cut back and sight lines from the road into the park will be improved, said Scott Pingel, an ICMA fellow with the city manager’s office. This procedure would allow police and citizens to better watch for suspicious activity, which the densely vegetated park now attracts. Teenagers sometimes gather in or near the park to drink alcohol, and gunshots from within the park have been reported in the past, Clark said.

“It does need a little bit of public safety, especially with the grade school (nearby),” he said.

The city is also pursuing new park identification signs, repairing trail surfaces and contemplating how to manage invasive species and improve access to the play area in Adelaide Park, said Betty Sanders, park planning and development coordinator.

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