By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The two dogs who share Rachael Morris‘s life, Duggie and Tilly, aren’t into dog parks.
However, Morris is working to get West Seattle a second one for the thousands of peninsula dogs who are.
Right now, the only official off-leash area in West Seattle is at Westcrest Park [map]. Dog owners have long complained that another one is needed, not just for space but for geography, since Westcrest is toward the southeast edge of West Seattle. Now, an organized effort is under way toward making it happen.
Morris leads what’s become the West Seattle Dog Park Coalition (WSDPC). She tells WSB the effort began last spring but really picked up steam when the citywide Citizens for Off-Leash Areas helped connect her with other West Seattleites pursuing the idea. So now they’re working with both COLA and Seattle Parks and Recreation. WSDPC has even come up with a list of five potential sites that it’s submitting to the city for review.
Without much official dog-park space, she says, people are using various spaces as unofficial dog parks, and that creates a “public-safety issue” for both dogs and people. So WSDPC is seeking to be part of the solution rather than perpetuating the problem. The lack of an off-leash area in north West Seattle was even officially recognized almost six years ago, in a city report on the state and future of dog parks citywide (here’s our 2016 report).
There’ll be a lot of hurdles to clear, Morris says – just to get sites reviewed could take a year, and Morris says they are well aware they’ll face opposition from people no matter which site (if any) is identified as feasible, so that’s why they’re going public now, to marshal support from dog owners who like the idea. WSDPC members extensively reviewed possible sites all around the peninsula and are submitting five for potential consideration: Areas at the West Seattle Golf Course (a corner currently primarily used for “seed deliveries,” Morris says), Hamilton Viewpoint, Lincoln Park, Duwamish Head (the inland open space), and Jack Block Park (which is owned by the Port of Seattle rather than the city). The latter site could even include some of the shoreline, which Morris says is appealing because the city only has two offleash beaches.
There’s a long list of criteria that ruled out the many other sites they reviewed. And Morris says the process from here is extensive – if the city does give them a green light to pursue a certain site, much public outreach and comment would follow. (The full city process is explained here.) She stresses that her group “wants to go through all the channels” to try to reach the goal, and they’re going public now at a very early stage. If you’re interested in getting involved, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. The group doesn’t have a website yet but is on major social-media channels.