Months-long closure ahead for West Seattle’s only off-leash dog park

(File photo)

When Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre met with HPAC last night (full report to come), he was asked about a long upcoming closure of West Seattle’s only off-leash area, at Westcrest Park. Aguirre didn’t have details but said he’d look into it. We hadn’t heard about it either, but found some information on the Parks website, which elaborates:

There have been ongoing drainage and erosion concerns at the Westcrest OLA, since at least 2016. Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is proposing to undertake maintenance activities in and around the Westcrest Park OLA to address these problems. SPR will also be taking this opportunity to bring the north parking lot into compliance with current accessibility standards.

SPR is in the process of refining the design and acquiring the necessary permit. The revised design will solve the drainage and erosion issues while providing a better user experience for all users.

Construction will begin in the spring of 2020 and we anticipate completion by fall. Due to safety for all and the scope of the project, the north parking lot and the entire OLA will be closed for the duration of construction. We understand the impact this will have on the OLA and are endeavoring to keep the shy/small dog use area open for everyone’s use during most of the construction.

The project page has more specifics on exactly what will be done; Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin says the exact start date hasn’t been finalized yet. She also followed up for us on an attendee’s mention of a September 18th hearing related to the project; a nearby resident has appealed the determination (PDF) that the project doesn’t need an environmental-impact report, and the city Hearing Examiner will consider the case on that day. The appellant says the closure of the off-leash area will be a hardship unless an temporary substitute is available.

30 Replies to "Months-long closure ahead for West Seattle's only off-leash dog park"

  • DogParkWoes August 29, 2019 (4:53 pm)

    I had no idea so Thanks for the info WSB! Im all for enhanced parking and a better overall experience. However a LOT of dog owners use the off leash park daily to exercise their pups, and I’m not sure we’ll all be able to effectively use the smaller area for such an extended period of time. I’m also not sure what a good temporary solution might be.. Unless they can close off the current, main Offleash areas in sections so portions are still usable to the public? I’m also aware they have work to do to resolve the drainage issues so that might not be a viable option. What a bummer all around :(

  • Christine August 29, 2019 (5:22 pm)

    While I appreciate the intent to improve Westcrest, this is a terrible hardship on community dog owners. This is our only off leash dog park. How can we get the city to open up alternatives during that time? I think school properties can be dual use – open to dogs and their owners when children are not playing sports. 

    • flimflam August 29, 2019 (6:05 pm)

      dogs tear up fields and turn them into mud pits when it rains. you are also assuming that everyone is responsible and picks up after their dog…

      • KM August 29, 2019 (7:02 pm)

        Bad actors and wear and tear exist in every facet of our life, dog and dog/owners are no exception.

    • Gene August 29, 2019 (6:51 pm)

      Really? Sure as heck hope that’s not an option! 

    • WC teacher August 29, 2019 (10:28 pm)

      One of the reasons schools are designated as on-leash only (and should be kept that way) is because many families in the south end communities we serve have cultural beliefs around the cleanliness of dogs and aren’t allowed to touch them. Ignoring the signs and using school property as an off leash area isn’t inclusive as it prevents many families from utilizing the school grounds after school or on weekends, even if the dog isn’t near the playground equipment. It makes kids and families feel less safe at school and isn’t culturally responsive. (I’m all for an alternative off leash area, but it shouldn’t be one of the schools.)

      • Lina August 30, 2019 (6:57 pm)

        Thanks so much WC Teacher for the information and perspective.  That totally makes sense and should be followed and respected

    • J August 30, 2019 (3:09 am)

      Please don’t use school grounds as dog parks! So much community volunteer efforts (years of planning, fundraising and many work parties of physically working to build and maintain) have gone into creating nice places for kids to play during school as well as weekends and after hours. These are sadly being destroyed by dog owners. 

  • Question Authority August 29, 2019 (6:51 pm)

    Hopefully the affected dog(s) will not feel the urge to run rampant at the adjacent Westcrest Park.  There are clearly posted “Leash Required” and “Scoop the Poop” signs throughout the upper-level park which are regularly violated by inconsiderate dog owners.  I know dogs can’t read and I’ve personally heard the owners lame excuses when they do violate those clearly posted rules.  I’m sorry the dog park has to temporarily closed, but please don’t turn the people park into your mutts new home.

  • Dawg August 29, 2019 (7:00 pm)

    Wait a minute, all parks are a dog-leash free for all in West Seattle. It’s not like anyone ever enforces leash rules at any park in West Seattle, and at least 80% of dog owners let their dogs off leash in any given park at any time of day. In fact, most dog owners seem to think any tree, shrub, grass (fenced or not), yard, curb strip, etc. is perfectly acceptable for dog business, and let their dogs piss and poo anywhere. Animals! Us responsible dog owners look like idiots among the 80% who run their dogs every which way, regardless of leash rules, aggression issues, kids at play, etc.

  • Ashley August 29, 2019 (7:08 pm)

    Wow. That really sucks. The small/shy dog area is TINY they may as well not keep anything open. No more than a few dogs at a time would fit. Whomever said that has obviously never been to Westcrest dog park….city definitely needs to open up alternatives during this time. Look how many dog parks they have on the north end.. 

    • Quora August 30, 2019 (6:58 am)

      So drive to the north end and use one of those parks. As others have echoed above, a lot of other considerations need to be taken into account before just turning an open space designed for people into one for dogs. It isn’t that simple (though I know many dog owners who really wish it was). This isn’t a slight against you or your dog; the SPR is directing monies to Westcrest to improve it for your benefit as a dog owner. I personally hope this serves as a reminder to inconsiderate and irresponsible dog owners who I see violate laws intended for public safety. If I had a dollar every time I saw a dog owner letting their animal run off leash on the football field at Madison Middle School, I wouldn’t be getting dressed for work shortly because I wouldn’t have to.

      • SS August 30, 2019 (12:15 pm)

        Agreed, I don’t understand why people buy dogs and then expect everyone else to help them take care of them.

        • KM August 30, 2019 (5:21 pm)

          Oooooh, do cars next!

  • KBear August 29, 2019 (8:56 pm)

    Well this is an unfortunate development for native plants and seal pups. 

    • Hens August 30, 2019 (8:28 am)


      • flimflam August 30, 2019 (9:16 am)

        i do believe kbear is implying that dog owners will simply let their dogs run on beaches and parks…

      • BlairJ August 30, 2019 (11:25 am)

        Those off leash seal pups are always getting underfoot.

  • Karen T August 30, 2019 (4:56 am)

    Burien has an small off leash dog park at 15810 5th Ave SW, Burien, WA 98166.Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island also has a small area with Lake access.

  • Steve35 August 30, 2019 (7:02 am)

    As a 20+ year park user (before the fences) I remember when the problems started. When more development started next to the big play area, a hillside was cut down where the fence is on the west perimeter. This immediately caused water to start rolling straight down through the park, the road and closer to the parking area creating channels and pools of water. Even then saw some officials assessing the situation. Glad they are working on it 

  • PC August 30, 2019 (7:06 am)

    If the city provided adequate options for dog owners to build community, closing one dog park wouldn’t be such an issue.

  • Mj August 30, 2019 (10:00 am)

    Woof woof.  More options certainly are needed!

  • helpermonkey August 30, 2019 (12:51 pm)

    there’s always Sniffspot – you can rent someone’s yard by the hour for your dog to play around in. Not ideal, but it’s a better option than taking them off leash to a regular park.

  • Shannon Williams August 30, 2019 (2:18 pm)

    We need another dog park. We have lots of dogs over here. What about some section of Lincoln?

  • 56bricks August 31, 2019 (8:28 am)

    We, as in I? Go buy some acreage for your dog instead of expecting me to pay for your wants.

  • Frank August 31, 2019 (10:48 am)

    We DO need an additional Dog Park Shannon and I think we need to get away from the same old City-model that absolutely hasn’t served our West Seattle community well.  It’s appreciated that they are doing maintenance but many problems will persist.  Privatization, major donors, with volunteers, monitoring, etc is the gold standard and once folks buy-in, literally, I can guarantee you’ll love it.  An example that has been highly successful: .  

  • Greg August 31, 2019 (3:34 pm)

    We wonder why nothing gets done and everything goes to hell. We have erosion and issues at the dog park. City decides to fix it. Some people scream, “ it’s not fair, I have a dog and this will be an inconvenience”, as if owning a pet didn’t come with inconvenience and demand that their needs are met. Than others yell, “ don’t disturb me with your dog. I don’t want to deal with your issues”. As if they are the only people who matter. Than others yell, and I can’t believe this is even a thing, this will affect the seal pups as if you can’t get a prescription for adderall so you can stay focused on the current topic. Than someone says, dogs are a cultural issue that affects some cultures ( ps those cultures outlawed dogs because the people’s they conquered loved dogs and this was how they could maintain the social levels in there culture) as if they didn’t live in a place with dogs. Stop it you narcissistic philistines ( no offense to the philistine culture) and act like humans. Pick up after your dog and be responsible for them and their lives. Run them or find an alternative during your schedule to get them somewhere else. Dog haters, stop worrying about everyone else and stay focused on your own efforts to live a life that, I don’t know,does something to contribute to society instead of bitching about how you are always wronged. My god people, the off leash area is washing away and will be gone if it isn’t repaired. This will damage all sorts of seal pups. If they take some parts of parks and fence it dog haters relax. It’s not only your park. Share. Dog owners don’t let your dogs run free off leash when you are provided areas. This makes you a self centered a–hole. People act like people. For the love of Christ we have real issues to deal here with like taxing soda and getting rid of plastic straws. Let’s keep our eye on the ball and get this city moving!!! 

  • Isupportyourkids August 31, 2019 (10:36 pm)

    I feel the same way about paying taxes for schools, preschool, etc.  I don’t have kids, I shouldn’t have to pay.  And if you make the argument about kids someday paying taxes, I’ll respond that it’s just as likely that they’ll be living off public assistance as adults.

  • Ray K September 11, 2019 (2:27 pm)

    If Parks really cared for the public access to our only off-leash area, they could stage the renovation work to keep an area from one entrance open during construction, then swap with the renovated entrance while the deferred work was completed. 

  • Joan LaBriola September 14, 2019 (12:26 pm)

    Jose Rizal Park south of the ID is a good alternate, although weekday traffic might be problematic.  I have brought dogs there in the past, it’s a big park with room to run, and in nice weather has a pretty spectacular view.

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