City rolls over dog ban at Timberlake Park

January 11, 2011

By Warren Kagarise


By Greg Farrar New signs at Timberlake Park outline updated pet rules for the park in the South Cove neighborhood.

The city has lifted the dog ban at popular Timberlake Park along Lake Sammamish after 17 months.

City Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said the city decided to rescind the ban, because the regional animal services agency has promised to be more responsive to dog incidents at the 24-acre park.

City workers removed the “No Dogs Allowed” signs at Timberlake just before Christmas. The city has added signs listing a contact number for Regional Animal Services of King County in order to report issues. Crews also installed dispensers for dog-waste bags.

Though the city allows dogs in the park again, canines must be leashed and cannot be on the beach from May 1 to Sept. 30, or go into the water, no matter the season.

McGill said the real test should come in summer, as crowds thicken at the park and parkgoers start to use the tree-shaded beach.

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

King County had allowed pet owners to walk dogs on leashes on park grounds. Issaquah kept the rule in place until July 2009, after complaints prompted the city to ban dogs in the park.

Safety concerns prompted ban

The city received reports from people about dog waste left along trails and in open spaces, dogs knocking down parkgoers and dogs fighting. Officials also heard about wayward dogs snatching food from picnic tables and darting into nearby yards.

In the days after the city rolled out the ban, dog owners howled about the restriction and city parks staffers reached out to residents for input about pet rules.

“The folks that were the dog walkers with dogs walking on a leash were always great. They weren’t the issue,” McGill said.

The city bans dogs in most municipal parks due to safety and sanitation concerns. The city prohibits pets from sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, and playgrounds.

Owners can walk leashed animals on sections of trails meandering through city parks. In the Issaquah Alps — Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — owners can walk dogs on established trails, but the animals must be leashed.

Bark Park — built by Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities and open to the public — is the only off-leash dog park inside city limits.

The decision to lift the Timberlake Park dog ban came after county animal-control officials assured the city of better responses.

Issaquah and dozens of other cities joined the county in the updated animal-control program last summer. The agreement emphasizes the use of pet-licensing fees to fund the agency. The city generated almost $65,000 in pet-licensing fees in 2009 — dollars used to pay for animal services in Issaquah.

City encounters stinky situation

Though the pet problems diminished at Timberlake Park in the past year, the parks department has started to encounter issues at the West Tiger Mountain and Tradition Plateau Natural Resources Conservation Area.

Crews added signs in recent months to remind owners to keep dogs leashed so as not to disturb wildlife and other trail users in the forested natural area.

The city has heard from users upset about unleashed dogs jumping on people. The incidents, in some cases, also led to sharp exchanges between pet owners and other people inside the preserve.

McGill said parks staffers plan to set up a booth on a spring weekend and conduct some outreach. The city hopes to remind pet owners of the rules for the natural area.

The city has another issue to address: waste-filled bags left inside parks and along trails. Some owners heave the malodorous mess into the brush, or dump the bag on the side of the trail.

“If you’ve gone to that trouble, then take the next step” and drop the bag in a trash receptacle, McGill said.

The problem is not limited to the Lake Tradition area. Staffers said hikers reported waste bags left along other trails in the regional network.

“We see it on Poo Poo Point — no pun intended,” McGill said. “So, at first we thought, ‘They’re going to pick up on their way down,’ but no. It’s there for weeks, and then volunteers and staff pick it up.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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