Owners howl at Timberlake Park dog ban

July 28, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Molly Herman, of Lakemont, plays fetch with her 8-year-old black Lab Abby at Timberlake Park on Lake Sammamish. Dogs are no longer allowed at the park according to the city, which has put a sign up at the entrance of the park. ‘The sign doesn’t persuade me,’ Herman remarked with the intention of still bringing her dog to the quiet and secluded park. By Adam Eschbach

Molly Herman, of Lakemont, plays fetch with her 8-year-old black Lab Abby at Timberlake Park on Lake Sammamish. Dogs are no longer allowed at the park according to the city, which has put a sign up at the entrance of the park. ‘The sign doesn’t persuade me,’ Herman remarked with the intention of still bringing her dog to the quiet and secluded park. By Adam Eschbach

City officials have banned dogs from Timberlake Park, a slice of wooded land nestled against Lake Sammamish that is popular with pet owners.

Officials cited safety concerns related to dogs at the park, including reports of people being knocked down by unleashed canines, dogs fighting with each other and dogs bolting from the trail onto private property.

City spokeswoman Autumn Monahan said those safety concerns prompted the rule change for the 24-acre park.

“This is about making sure everyone feels comfortable at the park and safe,” she said.

Though a new “No Dogs Allowed” sign greets visitors at the park entrance, several park goers said they were unaware of the rule change July 27.

Issaquah Highlands resident Layla Loveless arrived at Timberlake Park for a morning walk with her chow, Millie, when she noticed the sign.

“I was absolutely gobsmacked to see the sign,” Loveless said.

Loveless said she and her dog prefer the shaded trail of Timberlake Park to the off-leash Bark Park in the highlands.

Bark Park is “a quagmire in winter and in the summer it’s a baked expanse of earth,” Loveless said.

Dogs are not allowed in most city parks due to safety and sanitation concerns.

The city acquired Timberlake Park — a j-shaped piece of land nestled against the southern shore of the lake at Northwest Sammamish Road and 182nd Avenue Southeast — in the 2006 annexation of South Cove.

When Timberlake Park was part of unincorporated King County, residents were allowed to walk dogs on leashes on park grounds — until problems arose.

“While many dog owners — and their pets — are respectful and cautious, we need to make sure this park feels safe for all of our users,” city Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said in a news release. “Timberlake Park was not created as an off-leash dog park. Instead, it was designed and built specifically for humans.”

McGill could not be reached for further comment before The Press’ deadline.

When officials announced the switch to the media in a news release July 24, they suggested pet owners instead walk dogs on city streets and trails, at Lake Sammamish State Park, at the Tradition Plateau Natural Resources Conservation Area and trails around Cougar, Tiger and Squak mountains. Bark Park is the only city off-leash dog park in Issaquah.

City Parks & Recreation Manager Brian Berntsen said city staffers are focused on educating dog owners to the switch and directing them to dog-friendly venues by handing out pamphlets to dog owners.

“This is all about educating the public as best as we can,” Berntsen said.

He said McGill received several calls from people in favor of and also opposed to the rule change.

Seattleite Jennifer Patterson discovered Timberlake Park a few days before the ban went into effect. She gathered friends both human and canine for a return trip to the park July 27.

“Let’s go back to the awesome park we found,” Patterson told them.

In the late morning heat, she and two friends ate snacks at a picnic table while dogs Bear and Magnet, still wet from a romp in the lake, rested in the shade.

Patterson said she was excited about her return to the park, but was surprised to learn about the ban.

Other park goers expressed similar sentiments.

During her trip to Timberlake Park, Loveless said she met a woman who “said she was walking her damn dog anyway.”

Loveless wondered aloud whether a compromise could be reached between dog owners and city officials to rescind or modify the ban.

“Surely there’s a middle ground,” she said.

Loveless said she understood the concerns that led to its enactment.

“No one wants to see children hurt,” she said.

Maple Valley resident Denice Muir brought her 14-month-old daughter Ava and chihuahua Dobbie to the park to cool off. From a shaded stretch of beach, Muir said dogs she has encountered at the park are trained and well-behaved. Muir said she heads to the park about five times per week.

“There has never been a problem,” she added.

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14 Responses to “Owners howl at Timberlake Park dog ban”

  1. Doug on July 28th, 2009 9:13 pm

    Living off of 184th Ave SE (where the park really is – not 182nd) I have never had a problem with the dogs. In fact, I’ve never heard them and the only time I see them is in the parking lot.

    My only gripes are that you must enter the park from 184th – which is a private street to get to the parking lot. On more than one occassion I’ve had to sit on W. Lake Sam with cars lining up behind me unable to turn down the street because of cars lined up to get in the lot. There is a pretty steep driveway and people are rightfully cautious to keep from dragging bottom so some move rather slowly. Parking is very limited and at times parkgoers will park on one or both sides of 184th making the narrow road even narrower.

    The access to the park should be moved so you enter it from the parkway and not our private road. A private road is just that..private and should be for residents and visitors only. There’s been a few times I’ve had to hit my brakes to avoid parkgoers who blindly walk across 184th heading for their car.

  2. Steve Kramer on July 29th, 2009 6:22 pm

    Contrary to the comments by dog owners using the park, very few dogs are leashed.
    I live in the immediate area and walk in the park several days a week.
    I have witnessed several dog fights, aggressive dogs running loose, and plenty of dog excrement left behind by irresponsible owners.

    The restriction is a positive for the park and the majority of it users. Keep the restriction in place!!

  3. Concern Dog Owner on July 30th, 2009 8:30 am

    Having a multi use park (with dogs) in the area is an incentive for potential homebuyers, and will help increase the property values for the City of Issaquah. Raising the property value (and property tax) would seem to be something the city would be interested in, which was the main reason for our purchasing a home recently in the area.

    I have never seen any dogfights in the last 3 months that we have gone to this park on a daily basis. It appears to me that people should worry more about the teenagers, sneaking away from their homes to hang out in the park, at the picnic tables smoking dope. I have seen this on several occasions, so why aren’t people worried about that, rather than being worried about the people who are trying to let their dogs get some exercise from being cooped up all day while their owners work.

    The worst thing about this is the dog sign posted says no dogs’ period; you cannot even walk your dog on a leash at the park. I do not see how this is educating me; I wanted to move into an area where my dog could play in the shade and go for a swim. Now the only other alternative is to take my dog to the Highlands dog park, which is a very unkempt park, and so small, that when throwing the ball it always goes over the fence or rolls down the hill, not a park for Labradors, to get a decent exercise and swim. It is blazing hot up on that hill with no shade, and during the wintertime it is muddy, dirty, and waterlogged.

    Then of course, there is Marymoor Park, again no shade and the last time I was there, the grass was knee high with gopher holes everywhere, it made it impossible to play fetch with my dog.

    The greater Seattle area prides itself on its liberalism, but every time I turn around there is a new rule being put in place to affect my rights, now there is a rule in place affecting my dog’s. More and more, our lives are being defined by what we can not do, rather than what we can do. Does anyone care about the dog’s demeanor, why should the only way a dog, can get exercise is to be on a leash walking on a sidewalk, or trail that has bikers? Why should I have to get in my car everyday after work and drive to Cougar Mountain, or Squawk and Tiger Mountain, to walk my dog in the shade? If I am going to drive that far I might as well drive to the Magnuson Dog Park in Seattle. Again, I do not understand how this ban is educating me.

    If the city, was truly interested in making this park safe, they would ensure that the dope smoking teenagers are removed and the dogs are properly escorted in and out of the park on leases as not to disturb the private residences. Once in the park, the dogs should be allowed to be released.

  4. Gary Berg on July 30th, 2009 9:15 am

    Do we have to regulate everything?? This is a wonderful quiet, secluded spot to bring your dog and It would be a travesty to make this beach park to off limits to dogs. Dogs need a place to play in the water too. I have been going to this park with my dog for years and have never seen any negative incidents involving dogs. My experience with dogs owners using this park has been that they are a respectful conscientious group just looking for a good place take their dogs.


  5. Cathy on July 30th, 2009 3:27 pm

    What a shame!!! I have been taking my dogs and kids to this park for years. I have never seen dogs misbehaving, just having fun. The people I meet with and without dogs are polite and respectful. It seems like people without dogs have more say than people with. I saw a young mother pull up to the park yesterday, when it was 100 degrees, unload her kids and then her dog for a nice day at the lake. Then she noticed the “no dogs allowed sign”. I felt so bad for her. We are becoming more like a big city everyday, where dogs are not allowed anywhere.

  6. Tracy Franks on July 30th, 2009 7:07 pm

    This is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS. I have lived in Issaquah for years and loved everything the community and the city has had to offer. I can’t believe the city has come along like a thief in the night to take this away from us. I found there is an online petition started to assist us in our effort to free our park from this bureaucratic tyranny!


  7. James O on August 1st, 2009 2:56 pm

    This is ridiculous. This is the type of regulation that makes the majority of people furious. I’ve been to this park at least 75 times in the last year and NEVER have I seen a fight our unruly behavior. In fact the people WITH dogs far out number the ones without when using the park. I imagine a few people griped (this minority IS VERY VOCAL) and city government responded by saying “we must act.” The dog owners in the park are friendlier and less vocal than those without. Just yesterday a man nearly assaulted my wife because she was there with our dog. In an informal poll “at the park” it’s running about 10 to 1 in favor of allowing dogs.

  8. Connie Ramsey on August 3rd, 2009 8:54 am

    Here is an email that I sent to the Mayor on 7/28/09:

    Mayor Frisinger:

    THIS HAS GOT TO BE THE MOST UNFRIENDLY DOG TOWN IN THE STATE, AS FAR AS LOCAL GOVERNMENT GOES!!! EVERYWHERE I LOOK: “NO DOGS”, “NO DOGS”, “NO DOGS” — I think you should look out your office window once in awhile to actually see how many dogs people own dogs in this town to know that you are completely off kilter with what’s around this town: DOGS. Oh sure, let the geese run free and poop all over Lake Sammamish State Park and not clean it up, but God forbid if we should bring our loving, faithful companion dogs to any parks in this town! GET REAL!!! I’m getting sooooo sick of this. Well, I for one am going to start ignoring those “NO DOG” signs and take my dog where I want to. AND I’m going to send a copy of this message to the Issaquah Press. Shame on you and the City Council for cow-towing to one or two people who hate dogs, instead of seeing the THOUSANDS of people WITH dogs that need places (that’s PLURAL – PLACES) to run their dogs FREE!!!!!!! I think I’ll also organize a big DOG demonstration in front of YOUR office door showing all our disappointment in you and the City Council for making Issaquah the “MOST UNFRIENDLY DOG TOWN IN THE STATE.”

    -Connie Ramsey

    . . . And here is her reply from 7/29/09:

    Dear Ms. Ramsey:

    Thank you for your e-mail and for taking the time to write and share your views about Timberlake Park. The Parks and Recreation Department has received upwards of 20 complaints about off-leash dogs jumping on children and adults, fighting one another, eating picnic lunches, and generally making people feel unsafe and uncomfortable in a park that was designed for use by everyone.

    Timberlake Park is not an off-leash dog park. And, even in off-leash parks, dogs are expected to be under voice command.

    The City’s concern is for the safety and well-being of those who wish to use the park without being charged by off-leash dogs.

    We will, in September, host a neighborhood meeting to come up with some real solutions to those who continue to allow their dogs to roam off leash.

    Thank you again for sharing your views.


    Ava Frisinger, Mayor

    cc: City Council
    Parks Department

  9. Cheryl on August 6th, 2009 10:02 pm

    Ive lived in the Lake Sammamish area most of my life, I have been taking my dogs to this park for years, almost every other day………..rarely do I see people come here without dogs. Its truly a place for pets and pet owners. I have never seen a dog fight……….never seen an aggressive dog out of control. There are several very large people parks close by for families with kids that are far more appropriate for children. I would have never taken my children to Timberlake park……….its not a safe park for families or kids, and NOT because dogs go there. To the contrary, the dogs have been keeping it safe for those of us who walk our dogs there. The biggest problem this Timberlake park has had, is theft and vandalism of the cars that try and park in the parking lot. I have seen over a dozen cars broken into and their windows smashed in. Ive called the police to report these……….and this certainly hasnt taken priority over the years that Ive been going, no new ordinances have been posted to prevent thefts and vandalism. Had my dogs been in the parking lot at the time these vandals wanted to smash in a window, I can assure it would not have happened. Timberlake park is on a bus line with a stop right out front and I have seen people of questionable character roaming through the park, to which I am most grateful to have large dogs to walk with while there. Older kids from the surrounding neighborhood use the forest trails there as target practice with guns, and I have worried about my dogs getting shot on more than one occasion. I can guaranty that the number of people related crimes in this park far outnumber the dog complaints.
    Not only has the Parks department overstepped their boundaries with Timberlake in enforcing this new ordinance……….try going out further to the Tolt river or Carnation hiking trail parks………..all closed now with what they are calling renovations that will take up to two years to fix!!! Keep in mind that we as tax payers pay the salaries of these officials in the parks department………and we are paying for the upkeep and any renovations that go on as well. Even so……….we are treated as if these parks are not ours to make any decisions about or with. We are casually told on the spur of the moment……….we arent allowed in……..or our pets are no longer allowed.
    I will continue to go to these parks………..as I pay for them and there upkeep, I also pay for the salaries of the Parks department officials that are enforcing laws, without asking the taxpayers for their approval.

  10. Lisa on August 18th, 2009 12:53 pm

    I was dumbfounded to see this new ordiance! I’ve been taking my dog to this park almost daily for 10 years. It is one of the few places that is close by that a dog can get his paws under something that isn’t cement and is an easy and flat walk, especailly for older dogs and people. From Sept to May, it is 99% dog owners and I’ve never seen or meet an unfriendly dog there or had any problems. During the rest of the months, there are considerable other non-dog people using the beach, obviously, but I’ve never witnessed any problems or heard concerns from any parents there. If there are too many dogs or kids, we leave! The biggest issue I have with the park are the beer cans and condoms that are left behind. Gross! How about a compromise of letting the dogs back from Sept to May?

  11. Robert Hook on September 7th, 2009 9:47 pm

    Every other city we visit have permitted leashed dogs in their parks. The city of Issaquah’s policy in this park as well as it’s other parks are inconsistent with park rules elsewhere. You promote unbridled growth, tearing up hillsides and cutting down trees, but are limiting local areas for the citizens to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. There needs to be a balance in green areas for people to relax with their four legged friends and families after they toil to pay taxes that support the officials that run this city and make these ridiculous rules. Remember, please elected officials are just that, elected and these unpopular and unresearched decisions will provide you with opportunities for new employment!

  12. Gayna Williams on November 28th, 2009 10:47 am

    I’m not a dog owner but am disappointed at the change of policy at the park. I knew that anexing had bad parts to it. We have gone to the park for years and live in the area and never had problems. This morning i walked through the park from the top of the road (usually i cut through the side from our area) and a woman was concerned there are bears and cougars in the park due to your signage, and with the No Dogs sign it is now a fearful place to go.
    I didn’t see a single person in the park, so sad not to see the happy dogs bounding around. My kids loved seeing the dogs and throwing balls for them.
    I agree with Lisa above a compromise must be met if not this park will not get used. Kids on the beach get knocked over – okay between 10am and 4pm no dogs on the beach during the summer months – but apart from that please let the dogs enter the park.
    Sad sad sad sad Issaquah – a no fun place to live that doesn’t embrace nature and people.

  13. Juju on August 7th, 2010 9:21 pm

    Its about people, news flash dogs are animals!!! People’s rights and safety first, animals second. Dog owners lost right due to irresponsibility. Get over it and learn how to manage your animal, or find another place to walk your dog. Good job city officers!!

  14. Glenn on August 21st, 2014 1:57 pm

    I’m not against dogs, but it is people who are irresponsible and very few are very ignorant. If they clean-up the dog excrement and leash when there are people around then that should be fine.

    But real problem is few irresponsible dog owners leaving the dog excrement and dogs w/o leash. I think they should get ticket and pay fine. Most parks near area including Lake Sammamish State Park are no different. My wife is afraid of dogs leash off and you can see plenty of those in this park and other parks around. Some of these dog owners are very ignorant of others. They always said, “don’t worry about the dog, it is harmless” and ‘it won’t bite.” It is not that dog won’t bite, but it is intimidation. I would like to see if they are okay with two doverman loose in their back yard or coming toward them while they are walking in the park w/o leash. Ahh, don’t worry, they won’t bite…

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