Voices

Dog park gets public hearing

Tuesday evening, the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department held the first of two public hearings about a proposed off-leash dog park to be built in the High Bridge Park area.

The dog park would be located on land between Riverside Avenue, A Street and Government Way. SpokAnimal, the Spokane Parks Foundation and the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department are working together on the proposed park, but nothing is set in stone yet.

“We have been talking about this for four or five years,” said Taylor Bressler, park planning and projects manager with the parks department, at the beginning of the hearing. “This is a classic ‘not in my back yard’ project, but we believe this is a good location.”

There are no dog parks in Spokane. The nearest one is the dog park just east of the state border, which is operated by SCRAPS – the Spokane County’s animal control agency.

A master plan for the High Bridge Dog Park has been developed by local landscape architects Gavin Associates. It’s designed to be implemented in stages beginning with, very simply, a fenced area and rudimentary services such as a portable toilet for humans and cleanup stations for dog waste.

If completed, the final park would also have a picnic shelter, an area where dog shows and training could be held – complete with amphitheater seating – and a water feature for the dogs.

Initially, just putting up the fence would cost between $60,000 and $80,000, Bressler said.

“And we don’t have cent one on this,” he added.

The Spokane Parks Foundation donated $12,500 to study and plan the dog park about a year ago, said Toni Nersesian, the foundation’s executive director.

“We look at this as an initiative,” said Nersesian, explaining that the foundation had a lot of prep work to do before it could get behind the fundraising.

“We can put swimsuits on kids, but we can’t do projects,” Nersesian explained. The foundation immediately partnered with SpokAnimal, which took on the main part of the fundraising.

“They don’t want a 10-year campaign, they want something to happen soon,” Nersesian said. “We believe in it. Even in times like this, people have deep pockets for their pets.”

The area is part of the master plan for the Spokane River Gorge which was developed in 2002, with a lot of public input, by the Friends of the Falls Association.

“I want to make it very clear that Friends of the Falls support the concept of a dog park,” said Steve Faust, speaking on behalf of the association. “And we think this is a very appropriate site for the park.”

Reach Pia Hallenberg Christensen at (509) 459-5427 or piah@spokesman.com


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