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Off-leash park moves step closer

After years of planning, an off-leash dog park could be on its way to south King County.

The Federal Way Parks Commission, in conjunction with parks departments in Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Kent, Renton, SeaTac and Tukwila, will hold open houses April 25 to gather public input on the location and amenities proposed for the park.

Park officials with the eight cities began developing concepts for an off-leash dog park, currently proposed for Grandview Park, after residents said they wanted a place close by to take their dogs for exercise.

Grandview Park is between SeaTac, Kent and Des Moines east of Interstate 5 and Military Road.

“We feel having an urban regional off-leash dog park would be important to citizens,” said Federal Way Parks director Jennifer Shroder.

Seattle has several dog parks, and there are two in north King County –– Marymoor Park in Redmond and Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island –– but none in south King County.

There were 151,000 pets licensed with King County Animal Control last year. Of those, 90,000 were estimated to be dogs; half of them were estimated to live with their owners in south King County.

In January 2001, a task force comprising representatives from the eight cities, King County and King County Animal Control was formed to investigate options for a dog park. During the course of the year, they conducted site visits and gathered input into what would make the best dog park for the south area of the county.

The task force determined that an off-leash park would need between 10 and 40 acres to give dogs enough room to stretch their legs. It would need a variety of landscapes, including a large expanse of grass and fencing. Dog toilets — poles and gravel — also would be a necessary amenity along with poop dispensers, ample parking and drinking water.

As far as the cost of maintaining an off-leash dog park, the county spent about $12,000 for maintenance and about $15,000 for supplies at Marymoor Park in 2000.

To help cover the costs of the park, the task force is recommending a $1 or $2 surcharge on county pet licenses.

With 151,000 licenses sold in 2001, a $1 surcharge could generate $151,000, though that number accounts for cats and dogs. The task force recommends the money be divided among all the off-leash areas.

The task force also suggested sponsorships from dog food companies or local veterinarians as revenue sources. Vendors could provide some funding through revenue-sharing and the park could be rented for dog shows.

Task force members are hoping to determine during the public houses what citizens think about the off-leash dog park idea. After the open houses, the task force will summarize community input and make reports to their respective city councils.

“Right now, so many citizens are traveling up to Marymoor Park,” Shroder said. “There’s definitely an on-and-off interest in Federal Way and the south end. We’re trying to come up with a solution.”

Open house

The off-leash dog park open houses will be held April 25 in Kent at the Kent Memorial Park Building, 850 Central Ave. N., at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and at Kent City Hall, 220 Fourth Ave. S., at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

More information is available from Federal Way Parks director Jennifer Shroder at 661-4040.

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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