The Spokane Park Board voted against building a new 7.5-acre dog park in upper Lincoln Park during a special meeting on Monday.
The board voted 6-3 against the proposed location after a spirited discussion.
Park officials held four open houses this month to solicit the public’s input on three proposed locations for a new fenced-in, off-leash dog park on the South Hill.
The location that initially drew the least opposition was upper Lincoln Park. The other two parks on the short list were Underhill Park and Hazel’s Creek.
Spokane Parks Director Garrett Jones said after the meeting that his department will keep looking for new paths for a new dog park, but that there may be some “give and take” to find a location that works best for everyone.
“It’s not dead,” Jones said. “This is what we love about public comment. Listening, being able to hear that, adapt and continue to move forward.”
Future proposals might have to compromise on size or natural features, or potentially be located outside of city limits with the help of the county, Jones said.
“I wish we could have found a perfect site also, but I don’t believe it exists,” said Bob Anderson, a park board member who voted in favor of the Lincoln Park location. “It just seemed like the best alternative.”
Anderson was joined by board members Nick Sumner and Kevin Brownlee in voting to approve building the dog park at upper Lincoln Park.
A new South Hill dog park was proposed earlier this year by the city and school district after the construction of the new Carla Peperzak Middle School closed an unofficial dog park on Moran Prairie and forced dogs and their respective humans to find a new play area in the neighborhood.
That unofficial dog park was on unused land outside of the city limits.
Some opposed the Lincoln Park site location from the beginning, writing public letters expressing concern for the loss of natural habitat on the park’s undeveloped 40-plus acres.
“I just know from experience when you have these sensitive plant communities – like the camas meadows or this bitterroot that grows right on the rock – once they’re gone, we can’t re-establish those,” local conservationist Amy Dawley said at Monday’s board meeting. “I think that the value of these natural ecosystems that are already established really outweigh the need to convert the activity or land use to something so different.”
Board President Jennifer Ogden had similar feelings.
“My instinct is to preserve,” said Ogden, who voted against the proposed Lincoln Park location. “In this case, the damage to Lincoln Park would have been irreversible. It was too much of a loss.”
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