Timberlake Park dog ban proponents, opponents dig in ahead of city meeting
August 25, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
A sign at the entrance to Timberlake Park carries a stern warning to pet owners leading dogs down the leafy trail: “No Dogs Allowed.” Since the sign went up last month, however, pet owners have flaunted the dog ban.
City officials, eager to prevent safety mishaps at the park, responded in kind. Pet owners are now likely to encounter parks staffers or Issaquah Police officers, who tell them about the municipal ordinance that prohibits dogs in most city parks.
Timberlake Park, 24 acres nestled against the southern shore of Lake Sammamish, was open to dogs until earlier this summer.
City officials banned dogs after they received reports from people about dog waste littering the grounds, park goers getting knocked down by dogs and dogs fighting with each other.
“Our position at the city, of course, is safety,” Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said.
A series of incidents at the park were recounted in calls and e-mails to city parks staffers. McGill recounted a call from a mother at the park whose children could be heard crying in the background after a dog had knocked them down.
Officials described incidents in which wayward dogs snatched food from picnic tables and darted off park property into nearby backyards.
City officials will host a Sept. 9 open house to review pet rules and concerns about Timberlake Park.Since the ban was enacted, however, city officials have had to contend with vandalism at the park. A “No Dogs Allowed” sign was bent in late July, and a picnic table was torched in early August. McGill said it could not yet be determined if the ban was a factor in either incident.
The city acquired Timberlake Park, at Northwest Sammamish Road and 182nd Avenue Southeast, as part of the South Cove annexation.
After South Cove voters opted for annexation by Issaquah four years ago, city officials kept the old King County rules at Timberlake Park. Leashed dogs would be allowed unless officials received complaints about canine activity.
Dogs are banned in most city parks due to safety and sanitation concerns. Bark Park in the Issaquah Highlands is the only city off-leash dog park within city limits.
When the Timberlake Park ban was announced, city officials suggested pet owners 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.
Squak Mountain resident Connie Ramsey described the Timberlake Park ban as “overkill.”
“It’s like a mother who’s overprotective of her child,” Ramsey said. “It’s all well and good, but you have to live a little.”
Ramsey said she would occasionally take her 11-year-old Basenji mix, Mittens, to Timberlake Park. Ramsey said she carried a bag for dog waste with her, and put her dog back on a leash if she spotted other dogs or park goers.
Though she said other dogs at the park were well-behaved, Ramsey said she spotted dog waste on the park grounds. She said she could understand why nearby residents had issues with dogs in the park.
“I could see why people were so upset if dogs were getting close and running on their property,” Ramsey said.
Doug Spooner has lived along 184th Street Southeast, the narrow street adjacent to the park, for several years. Increased traffic as a result of park users has him riled.
“It’s a big pain in the butt that we didn’t have before,” Spooner said.
The lot at the Timberlake Park entrance has space for five vehicles and cars often overflow onto the street.
Spooner expressed ambivalence about the dog ban.
“Everybody has the right to do whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt anybody else,” he said.
Spooner, who opposed the South Cove annexation, bristled at officials’ decision to enact the dog ban.
“Most of us moved down here because it’s off the beaten path,” he said.
At the Sept. 9 meeting, city staffers will also review other cities’ rules about pets in parks. Staffers will collect feedback from open house attendees about how to ensure public safety at Timberlake Park.
Mayor Ava Frisinger, owner of a 12-year-old Corgi mix named Amadeus, said she could sympathize with pet owners’ concerns. In the days after the ban was announced, Frisinger received several calls and e-mails from residents who favored and opposed the ban. She said city officials looked forward to hearing options from residents about how to accommodate pet owners who oppose the ban and residents who favor the ban.
McGill emphasized the safety concerns behind the decision to ban dogs.
“We’re not going to wait until someone gets bit,” she said.
City Ordinance 1567
It is unlawful for the owner or custodian of any domestic animal to cause, permit or allow such animal to:
A. Enter any city park where posted; or
B. Enter in or upon any public fountain.
If you go
Timberlake Park pet rules open house
6:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 9
Tibbetts Creek Manor
750 17th Ave. N.W.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.