Save the date: Rizal Off-Leash Area public meeting 10/20

The proposed reconfiguration of the Jose Rizal Park Off-Leash Area was not presented at last night’s North Beacon Hill Council meeting as was previously scheduled. Instead, Brenda Kramer from Seattle Parks and Recreation announced that there will be a public meeting held on October 20 at Jefferson Community Center to discuss the new plan.

Kramer told the neighbors in attendance, including a quite a few who were there to protest the proposed park shrinkage, that the plan for the Off-Leash Area (OLA) is currently being redesigned and Parks wants input from park users.

Several neighbors did speak up at the meeting to express their wish to keep the Off-Leash Area large. One neighbor said that other OLAs are small, and the Jose Rizal Park OLA is “a jewel” for the city because of its larger size. She added that dog parks are amenities to a neighborhood that are equivalent to light rail stations or grocery stores.

Another neighbor added: “You have a duty as a city to provide canine infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Olmsted Brothers did not forsee that need.”

Kramer, Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, and other city representatives in attendance emphasized that those interested in the dog park should attend the October 20 meeting to provide input. The meeting will most likely be from 7-8 p.m., but stay tuned to the Beacon Hill Blog for further information as the date draws closer.

7 thoughts on “Save the date: Rizal Off-Leash Area public meeting 10/20”

  1. I like dogs and everything, but I have to strongly disagree with this statement from the NBHC meeting:

    “She added that dog parks are amenities to a neighborhood that are equivalent to light rail stations or grocery stores.”

  2. The accessible area for dogs in the current OLA is about the same area that Parks proposed – Parks’ proposal is actually a little larger, I think, and will likely preserve the area of actual use. The mockup of new borders for the OLA is just that, a mockup, and nothing is sealed in stone.

    About two thirds of the fenced area was covered in blackberry thickets and was inaccessible. The brambles have been cut when Parks could get mowers in – most recently as part of the Mountains to Sound Greenway project; the mowers cannot operate in wet soil conditions on slopes. When the bramble areas have been cut, I’ve put work crews in them for clean up and restoration work.

    The recent clearing work by Parks adjacent to the area, in the quaking aspen grove, has created an area where dogs can get shade, while opening up the sight lines for better visibility from 12th Avenue, so making the area safer and more inviting. The stumps of the thinned trees have been herbicided; I’ll get some information on when the chemical will be inert, for those concerned. The only other alternative would have been to bulldoze or backhoe the roots, which would have torn up the land and done more severe damage.

    Earlier this year, I asked the COLA chair and a board member in an online discussion initiated by Parks reps to help repair the fence at the entrance to the OLA – they refused to come to the park. I did the repairs with one Community Court community service worker in 10 minutes with about $5 in materials.

    The Olmstead quote was made by someone who does not live on Beacon Hill, but is a member of Citizens for Off-Leash Areas who lives in north Seattle – not a neighbor. I learned the morning after the meeting from someone working on the project that, following the meeting, when Parks’ reps left, they were accosted and harassed outside the library by the COLA member who followed them outside, and argued with them for 15 minutes.

    That type of behavior does more harm than good.

  3. I appreciate the recent work that has been done to the OLA by Parks and Craig. It is a much more pleasant area to stroll through now that the 6-foot tall thicket of blackberry bushes is gone and that the tree have been selectively pruned. The Greenway Trail Project can help us improve the sight lines into the OLA, which is critical for people to feel safe using the OLA and to make the OLA less attractive to drug dealing. The main entrance to the OLA still needs more work to thin the tree canopy and let in more daylight and remove the very densely overgrown bushes at the SW end of the Jose Rizal Bridge.

  4. Off-leash areas benefit everyone because they help dog owners get their dogs under control through exercise and socialization – insofar as they are well-designed. An off-leash area that is cramped is counterproductive because it leads to canine scuffles which are not only unpleasant for the site user but represent behavior that can be habit-forming and spill out into the world at large. It is not right for a City to hold itself harmless and stick dog owners in a liability situation, which a cramped off-leash area is.

    Dog owners are going off-leash where they shouldn’t be now because the off-leash areas are too small. According to Humane Society/Dept of Neighborhoods statistics Seattle’s got at least 208,000 dogs now with another 42,000 dogs expected by 2021. We have over 6,200 acres of park land out of which 27 are devoted to off-leash activity.

  5. So an infographic was recently posted, at the upper Jose Rizal parking lot, that represents the current proposal for the OLA boundaries. You can review the Parks proposal here. As Craig Thompson noted, this is an initial “mock up” and there is plenty of time for our voices to be heard on this issue. Hopefully, no more Parks reps will be accosted before they are allowed to go home after a long day at work. Folks, DON’T PANIC!

    Full disclosure, I am a NoBeHi resident and dog owner so you can probably assume where I am coming from. I have been involved in a number of impromptu discussions at the dog park and hope many of those people show up for the Oct. 20th meeting. But before I scream my list of demands, I would like to try and understand the issues surrounding this park area. In my opinion, the largest issue is to reclaim this park, as an enlivened city space, from the “Jungle”. My interpretation of the proposal is that the Parks dept. wants to bring people here by dividing the property into four uses:
    – open park area (next to the new path)
    – OLA (current use),
    – an urban orchard (heritage trees?)
    – leave the area along the south of the property as under-developed (path that connects the upper park to the current OLA already exists)

    Personally, I like the idea of bringing more people down to this area because it is beautiful and needs people to make it more safe. I don’t agree with how the dog park is laid out. But I am sure we can find a comfortable middle ground.

    Please post any other links to information regarding this proposal. I, for one, am very interested.

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