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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Couple envisions dog park near home

Valerie Putnam vrputnam@yahoo.com

Adopting Gracie, an energetic Labrador/hound mix puppy, last summer sparked Wanda and Gregg Tenner to start a grass-roots effort to build an off-leash dog park in Spokane Valley.

“Right now the only dog park that exists in Spokane is at the state line,” said longtime Spokane Valley resident Gregg Tenner. “Something centrally located in the Valley would be so much better.”

His vision of a dog park came while taking Gracie on her daily walk through a piece of property close to the couple’s home on 44th Avenue in the Ponderosa area.

The property, a 17.7-acre vacant parcel owned by Central Valley School District, is one the couple is considering for the park.

“They are not going to build a school in the near future, so maybe we could lease it from them, or something else,” Tenner said. “However, we aren’t set on that particular piece of land.”

According to district public information officer Melanie Rose, the property is not for sale. The lot is one of five reserve sites the district owns. Rose suggested the group submit a proposal to the school board, which makes the final decision.

The couple has yet to approach the school district about acquiring the land. Rather they are working to form a core group of a half-dozen committed individuals.

“The main thing is to find the people who are going to help us out and who are enthusiastic about it,” Tenner said.

Beginning in November, the couple posted fliers in area grocery stores and veterinary offices in Ponderosa, Painted Hills, Midilome and surrounding areas. They now have four individuals interested and plan to hold their first meeting in January.

Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service Director Nancy Hill believes picking the location of the park is going to be the biggest challenge facing the Tenners.

“Everyone wants them, but not by them,” Hill said.

SCRAPS, in collaboration with the Spokane County Parks and Recreation Department, opened a 3.5-acre off-leash dog park at Spokane County’s Gateway Park, just off Interstate 90 at the Stateline exit, in 2006. “There is a misconception on dog parks that there is a great deal of barking. Dogs bark when they are bored; they are not bored at the dog park.”

“We are aware of concerns people might have putting a dog park close to their home,” Tenner said. “We want to keep it on a positive level. There are so many positive aspects of setting up a dog park.”

He said the benefits of starting a dog park in a community include a safe outlet for dogs to exercise and socialize, a place for owners to meet with people who share common interests and well-exercised dogs being better neighbors.

“Gracie loves it,” he said. “One hour at the park expends more energy than two hours of walking and running her.”

The Tenners prefer to make the park available to the public, but if funds were unavailable they would consider other options, such as creating a private co-op park. A co-op charges users a fee.

After the core group is established, the Tenners plan to create a budget and hold fundraisers. Spokane County’s Gateway dog park, which the county leases from the state for a dollar, cost an estimated $20,000 to build, including fencing and signage. SCRAPS budgets $2,500 for yearly maintenance.

“We know it’s going to be an uphill battle,” Tenner said. “But we both feel it’s something that would benefit the Valley overall and the people who own dogs.”

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