Washougal dog park to close Nov. 1

Landowner said development could provide up to 1,200 jobs

Several people who meet regularly at the dog park in Washougal are hoping another off-leash area will open nearby for them and their canines.

The Donald and Angeline Stevenson Off Leash Area, located near Bi-Mart, at 3003 Addy St., is scheduled to close Nov. 1, after being open for seven years. It is operated by Dog Owners Group for Park Access in Washington, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that maintains all of the off-leash dog parks in Clark County.

A limited liability corporation, East Village Investors, purchased 15.97 acres of land, including the off leash area, the building occupied by Bi-Mart and some of the surrounding land, for $7.08 million, in December 2012.

Lone Wolf Investment LLC is the governing member of East Village Investors LLC.

“We have completed a conceptual master plan for the entire piece of property, and the property is being marketed for sale or for lease,” said Wes Hickey, owner of Lone Wolf. “Unrelated to the master planning, there have been a couple of parties indicate some interest in the dog park area.

“Mark [Watson] and his volunteer organization provide a tremendous service to the citizens of Clark County, and I appreciate and respect the dealings we have had with the DOGPAW organization,” he added.

Watson is a DOGPAW board member in charge of park maintenance and development.

Hickey said the future sale or lease of the off leash area and surrounding land could create employment opportunities.

“If that area is developed as mixed use, including office and open space, in the long term it could accommodate up to 1,200 jobs,” he said. “I think the primary issue for DOGPAW is that they need a permanent site to invest their time, effort and money into, and this site is the only site they have that the use of is temporarily donated by a private landowner.”

Washougal currently pays $1 a month to lease the off leash area. Public Works Director Trevor Evers said the city provides labor and equipment for mowing and trail repair as needed, as well as trash removal, at the off leash area.

The dog park and the land that the Bi-Mart store is located on are zoned by the city as Town Center East Village. The district is envisioned to have a mixture of higher density housing and retail contained within low-rise buildings.

Bi-Mart opened its Washougal store in March 2001. The Bi-Mart lease is for 25 years, with five 5-year options.

A place for socialization and recreation

Krista Daniel, of Washougal, takes “Ditto,” her Akita Shar Pei and Pit mix, to the dog park everyday. She appreciates it as a place for Ditto to run and socialize without a leash.

Daniel visits with Tami Bridge, of Washougal, and Gayle Matthews, of Camas, at the dog park. The women have become a support system for each other through health and financial issues, as well as a death and divorce.

They have also traveled together to Juneau and Maui.

Bridge brings “Abby,” a golden retriever to the local off leash area, while Matthews visits the park with “McGee” and “Lizzie,” English cream golden retrievers.

Daniel met Matthews about 10 years ago, at Cottonwood Beach, in Washougal.

They met Bridge at the off leash area six years ago.

“We celebrate all our birthdays, including doggies’ birthdays, and all holidays,” Daniel said. “We also had a dog park baby shower for a couple we met there who had a baby two years ago.

“It is important for dog socialization,” she added. “Without that, dogs get fearful and aggressive. Having a park close allows quick daily exercise for dogs. It is very important to dogs and to us.”

Rosie McLay, of Vancouver, likes taking her male husky, “Shilo,” to the off leash area in Washougal, everyday.

“It’s open and not in a forest,” she said. “It’s therapeutic for both of us.”

Dog park location options are examined

Daniel thinks an area near Goot Park, 303 S.E. Zenith St., in Camas, could work as an off leash area.

However, Washougal’s primary water supply well field is directly south of Goot, and Camas has a water well about 600 feet to the west of the park.

Several property owners who live near Goot Park are opposed to having a dog park in their neighborhood, and that opposition was heard by the Camas City Council.

Daniel also wondered if a section of the future Washougal Waterfront Park could be fenced off for a dog park.

Port of Camas-Washougal Executive Director David Ripp said the waterfront park, to be located on a portion of the former Hambleton Lumber Company property at 335 S. “A” St., will be for public use and animals are welcome.

“People will have to obey city of Washougal leash laws,” he said. “There will not be any fenced off area at the park.”

Watson said DOGPAW was interested in using five acres of the former George Schmid & Sons, Inc., offices site, at 1407 32nd St., Washougal, as an off leash area, but there were concerns that dog waste could get into the Washougal River.

Another location mentioned by Watson is land west of the former Riverside Bowl site, 3010 N.E. Third Ave., Camas. It is owned by the city of Camas.

That includes part of the parking lot, as well as the skate park and the field under the power lines west of the skate park. It was acquired through a grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.

The dog park in Washougal, approximately 7.5 acres, had been expected to close July 1, but Hickey allowed an extension to November.

“Mr. Hickey has been a very gracious and generous landowner,” Watson said. “I wish he had more spots [for a dog park].

Watson is hoping local land can be donated or sold to be used as a dog park. For more information, contact him at 896-4341 or mwatson76@yahoo.com.

Dog park could open in East Vancouver

Meanwhile, 10.5 acres of county-owned land located behind the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, 1100 N.E. 192nd Ave., Vancouver, could be developed as an off leash area.

The Clark County Council is expected to vote today on a use agreement with DOGPAW. If the project is approved, construction would occur in the mid-summer and be completed by December.

Watson said DOGPAW needs to raise $75,000 to clear the land and add a fence.

“There will be trails, not open fields,” he said. “The fir trees will stay.”

Clark County Parks Manager Bill Bjerke said with the anticipated growth around Green Mountain, plus the addition of sports fields at Pacific Community Park, county officials feel that this is a good time to provide the off leash park as an additional recreational component.

“With the Dakota Off-Leash area at Pacific Community Park currently being overutilized, a second site within the geographic area would help to serve the public and balance use,” he said. “The City of Vancouver does not have any land available for this purpose, so we are taking the lead.”