Dog park in Washougal? Survey says ‘meh’

Most respondents say they never used area’s former off-leash park

A recent community survey of Washougal residents holds some disappointing news for proponents of a local, off-leash dog park.

Not only did the majority of respondents say they didn’t use the former Washougal dog park, which closed in 2017, but many said they would never use an off-leash park even if there was one in their community.

The city contracted with the Kansas based ETC Institute to mail 2,800 surveys to Washougal residents. Fewer than 25 percent — 666 surveys — came back completed. The margin of error is listed at + or – 3.8 percent.

Fifty-seven percent of the 666 respondents said they never used the Donald and Angeline Stevenson off-leash dog park prior to its closing in April 2017. Asked how often they would use a new dog park if one opened in Washougal, 47 percent said they would never use it.

“I would be surprised if more than half of the residents have a pet,” Washougal City Councilman Paul Greenlee said during a June 11 council workshop.

Washougal City Administrator David Scott said 23 percent of the Washougal residents who responded to the survey indicated they would use a new dog park multiple times a week.

“A third of them would use it weekly,” Scott said. “Almost 40 percent would use it at least monthly.

“I don’t know that you can look at this and say, ‘ah forget a dog park; a dog park is not important.’ On the other hand, it’s hard to look at this and go, ‘oh my goodness, a dog park is the absolute highest priority that we have.’ I still think it would serve a lot of folks.”

The previous off-leash dog park, located in a field west of Bi-Mart, at 3003 Addy St., had been used as a park for licensed dogs since November 2009. It was temporarily closed from Oct. 31, 2016 to Jan. 2, 2017, and then closed for good in April 2017. The landowner, East Village Investors, is now marketing the 16-acre parcel, including the former 6-acre dog park, as a site for higher density housing and retail.

In May 2018, Washougal Mayor Molly Coston said she was looking into an area on the Camas-Washougal border, north of The Crossing shopping area, for a potential dog park. The Crossing, located at 291 “C” St., includes the Vancouver Clinic and Starbucks, as well as several other tenants.

In October 2017, Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner John Spencer had proposed using a location north of Camas, on a 5.5-acre parcel next to Grove Field Airport, as the area’s only off-leash dog park. Mark Watson, operations manager of Dog Owners Group for Park Access in Washington (DOGPAW), supported the location at that time.

In December 2017, Spencer confirmed that the Port of C-W and the cities of Camas and Washougal, as well as Clark County, each had approved $60,000 in their respective 2018 budgets for a dog park near Grove field. At that time, Spencer said he was still looking for better alternatives closer to Camas or Washougal.

In April 2018, Spencer said the site by Grove Field was no longer being considered as a potential dog park until the Port of C-W can nail down a proposed plan to widen and lengthen the Grove Field runway.

Majority support personal fireworks restrictions

On the topic of fireworks restrictions, the majority of respondents supported restrictions, with 32 percent agreeing with the city’s new “safe and sane” fireworks ordinance and 29 percent supporting a complete ban on personal fireworks.

New Year’s Eve 2018 will be the first holiday during which celebrants in Washougal will be limited to only use “safe and sane” fireworks, which include cylindrical and cone fountains, sparklers, ground spinners, novelties, wheels and smoke devices.

On the other end, 34 percent of those surveyed said they support overturning the new “safe and sane” restriction and restoring the previous allowance of all legal personal fireworks on certain days and times of the year.

Based on the survey administered by ETC Institute, Washougal residents indicated the maintenance of city streets and effectiveness of economic development efforts should receive the most emphasis from the city during the next two years.

Seventy-five percent of the people who responded to the survey said they were satisfied with the quality of local fire protection and rescue services, and 69 percent were satisfied with how quickly police respond to emergencies. Fifty percent of respondents said they were least satisfied with the quality of animal control.

When asked about the city of Washougal’s current pace of development, 62 percent of the respondents said retail development was too slow and 45 percent indicated the pace of multi-family residential development was too fast.