All bark for a new dog park and grab your leash! The City of Olympia would like to bring off-leash dog parks to town. The first of three, a 5.7-acre park, is proposed for a school district owned property next to McLane Elementary School on Olympia’s west side. Pet owners can look forward to the McLane Off-leash Dog Park.
The project was recently reviewed in a Thurston County Examiner hearing on October 27. The City of Olympia applicant Laura Keehan, the parks planning and design manager for Olympia Parks, Art and Recreation, presented the project, which would be the area’s second only park of its kind. It would also be the first for the city of Olympia. Currently, the Solid Waste Division of Thurston County Public Works operates an off-leash park for dogs at the Waste and Recovery Center on Hogum Bay Road in Hawks Prairie.
“We are very excited about this project,” says Keehan in the examiner’s hearing. “Dog parks have been long requested by the community. At this time, Olympia does not have any dog parks in our system at all.” The proposed park site is adjacent to McLane Elementary school at 200 Delphi Road SW.
Much of the landscape will remain undisturbed.
Access to the dog park is proposed to be from a single driveway with a right turn exit only onto Mud Bay Road. The driveway that is currently visible will not be the access point. It will be further east about midway between Delphi Road and the Highway 101 onramp. Gravel will cover the parking area, which will have 30 car stalls, two of which will be ADA accessible. No utilities are planned, nor are any public restrooms or other structures. A kiosk with park information will be posted in the parking area.
Vegetation and terrain will remain largely undisturbed except for selected areas as well as the removal of scotch broom and other weeds. Existing grasses and trees, including some Oregon White oaks, will be trimmed. The planned roadway into the parking area even diverts around the oaks to avoid impact. Areas that need reseeding will be seeded with grasses already proven to be hearty in the Pacific Northwest and require no additional watering. Olympia’s park rangers will maintain the park and are on duty seven days a week. They will remove waste from the site’s two trash cans, one in each enclosed dog play area.
What’s in It for the Dogs?
Large and small dogs will each have their own space. Each area will be surrounded by a four-foot fence, 4.4 acres will be enclosed for the large dogs and 1.6 for small dogs. There will be two, double-gated entries on two 10×10 concrete pads for visitors to access each dog play area. Dog owners can look forward to benches and a dog sanitation station with waste bags. Other likely amenities may be agility equipment and a walking path.
The city of Olympia applied for the special use permit from the county. In all, the city plans for three off-leash parks across its parks system, and this is the first. The area is zoned rural residential resource, and parks are allowed with approval from the hearing examiner. Planning started about two years ago and included a public survey. Many considerations are factored into the decision such as nearby wetlands, drainage and traffic impact.
For the other two parks, Evergreen Park, on Evergreen Park Drive is one of the possible future locations. It’s a four-acre park that currently has a gravel trail loop, picnic tables and some swings. Plans show a single enclosure for all dogs that would include the forested area. The third park would be located on a Ward Lake parcel that is an undeveloped 10-acre space stretching from Yelm Highway to the shoreline of Ward Lake. There is no water access, but a future off-leash dog park is proposed in the parcel portion closer to the highway. The Ward Lake site concept includes two dog areas, one for small and one for large dogs. Each park’s concept plans indicate walking pathways inside or out of the dog play area, benches, waste receptacles and kiosks with information.
The McLane off-leash park, like the additional two proposed parks, aims to meet sustainability criteria, which include protecting natural areas, land suitability and geographic distribution. When open, the park will be available to dog owners from dawn to dusk. The examiner’s decision is due November 13 or 17.