Improvements make Willis Tucker Community Park more accessible

MILL CREEK — The road to Willis Tucker Community Park’s popular off-leash dog park just got shorter.

That’s thanks to a new access road, disabled parking and a wheelchair-accessible path.

“People are using it, they’re loving it,” Snohomish County parks director Tom Teigen said.

Before the work finished up last month, people were forced to make a lengthy trek into the off-leash area along a gravel road. That deterred many folks who have trouble walking from bringing their dogs to the facility at all.

The upgrades were part of $1.2 million phase of construction at the Snohomish County park on Puget Park Drive, east of Mill Creek.

The work included more than 40 new parking stalls on the east side of the 84-acre park, better facilities for handling storm water and a new meadow area where grass is growing in, to be ready by late spring. The meadow, which is about four acres, is intended for picnicking and sports.

The original finish date for construction was projected to be in late 2011. Tricky soil conditions and wet weather pushed that back about a year, creating frustration among some park patrons as work dragged on.

“We ran into some real moisture in the soil, and that’s what held us up this year really through mid-summer,” Teigen said.

The county broke ground on the park in 2004. The big off-leash dog area opened in 2008.

There’s more work coming at Willis Tucker.

In 2014, the parks department hopes to add another 168 parking spaces. After that, plans call for building large picnic shelters next to the meadow area and improving water infrastructure.

Teigen’s eager for the next steps: “We know we’re still going to be busy out here for the next five to six years.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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